Thursday, 22 December 2011

Can I pray for the sick when witnessing?

As you go about your life seeking for opportunities to share the good news of Jesus Christ, there will be occasions when people that you come into contact with will have relatives, friends or family members who are either unwell or are going through a difficult situation. Of course it is also possible that the person you are speaking to could well be experiencing difficulties or illness themselves. These (genuinely) are ideal opportunities for the Gospel and of course a good time for you to offer to pray for them.

I understand well that this subject can be a contentious one for some. Some Christians believe that healing and other miracles only happened in  biblical times and don’t happen now. My answer is that I have seen people healed in the name of Jesus through prayer and the Lord has used me in this ministry on many occasions - people have been healed from all kinds of conditions. Many of them were immediately healed as they were prayed for. All the glory goes to the Lord for this as I can’t heal anyone. It is the prayer of faith that heals the sick.

Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. Matthew 10: 8

My wife Desiree and I both take any opportunity we can to offer prayer for people. Many individuals when they are suffering will start to search for God in one way or another. Very often my wife is asked to say a prayer for so and so at work, or for a relative or friend.

I have prayed for people lots of times when the opportunity has arisen, some were Christians and many were not. I have done so on the street, in homes, over the telephone, in fact anywhere and everywhere .

Recently my eldest sister and her husband visited us. They have both been unwell over the last couple of years. As a young Christian, in my over enthusiasm, I ‘Bible-bashed’ them and unfortunately, this pushed them away from Jesus. Consequently, witnessing to them has been difficult over the last eighteen years or so. As they talked about their conditions I asked if they would like me to pray for them, as I had seen many people healed over the years in the name of Jesus. That afternoon my daughter Bethan and I prayed for them both. We don’t see each other that often, but I believe I will have more opportunities to pray with them. Hopefully one day leading them in a prayer to accept Jesus as Lord.

A while ago my wife and I had been witnessing to a married lady who was experiencing a lot of problems. We would share the Gospel, she would listen with interest even acknowledging that God exists. As I write this she has not as yet  given her life to Jesus, but He will intervene in her circumstances when she does.

This lady came along to a house group meeting one evening and explained that her daughter had just had her tonsils removed. Healing was taking a long time during which she has contracted a very painful throat leaving her unable to eat for a few days. The medication she was on seemed to be having no effect at all and the young girl was very poorly indeed. I asked if the lady would like us to pray for her daughter and explained how Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, because He still heals the sick. She agreed and we prayed the prayer of faith that the Lord would touch the young girl as she slept.

The very next morning the young girl woke up and coughed all of the infection out of her throat. The pain stopped straight away and she was able to eat her first food since her operation. The lady excitedly rang to tell us the good news. We are still witnessing to her, believing that she will one day accept Jesus. She testifies that the Lord healed her daughter, which is excellent.

When I pray for healing, or for the Lord to move in the situation the person may be going through, I always ask the Lord to use His intervention as a form of proof that He is real. I will say something like: “Lord I ask that you would heal Bob’s condition and do it so that he will have no doubt that you are the living God. Please heal him in the name of Jesus”

I believe very strongly in quoting some healing scriptures or stories here. Explaining the faith of the centurion, who said to Jesus: “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.” Matthew 8:8.

Or I share the story about the leper who went to Jesus asking to be healed: “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” He said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him.” Luke 5: 12-13

In using these scriptures I will often quote them as I pray saying “Lord I know that you are still willing” or “Lord, just say the word”. There many scriptures that you can use, and remember, that faith comes by hearing the word of God. Many times people have said how they have felt the presence of the Lord on occasions like this.

God can use these situations to really open people’s hearts. C.S. Lewis said that suffering is God’s mouthpiece to man. We know from scripture that the children of Israel called out to the Lord to move in their distress.

Take the step of faith and ask if the person would like you pray. You will be amazed how many times they say “yes!”


Wednesday, 14 December 2011

How to invite a person to church

Do you know people who are charismatic types and as a result, they find it easier to share the Gospel with friends, family and people in general, whilst there are others who are much more cautious and they don’t find it a comfortable experience in any way at all?
What group do you believe that you fall into?
According to research it is said that only 10% of Christians actually have an evangelistic type of heart or calling on their lives, while only 5% actually ever lead a person to Christ during their lifetime. Whether these figures are true or not is up for debate no doubt. However, I believe though that the figures do bear a good deal of truth, but they are probably just a guestimation.
The point to remember here is that we are not all called to be evangelists, but we are all commanded to be witnesses for Christ in some way. I have said before that witnessing can take many forms. It can be confrontational, relational, testimonial or invitational.
Let’s pause and consider this subject. One of the easiest forms of evangelising and witnessing is inviting someone to church or perhaps a Christian event.
Now here’s some really great news! If we ask God for wisdom, He will grant it to us! It is clearly laid out in His Word, so therefore it must be true. Without a doubt God will always keep His word to us.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” James 1: 5
Another amazing promise is what will happen if we win souls for His kingdom. It has always been one of my favourite scriptures:
“He who wins souls is wise.” Proverbs 11: 30
I believe that God will give us wisdom not only on how to witness, but incredibly He will also show us exactly who we should be witnessing to. Sometimes it may just involve the sharing of some scripture or perhaps your testimony, while on other occasions it could mean inviting someone to come to church with you to attend a service or some kind of a special outreach event.
Key Point: Be honest about what you are inviting a person to attend
I have a few suggestions that will help you from my past experience, because I have got it wrong on some occasions. The first suggestion is:
Be honest about what you are inviting a person to attend: 
I was the guest speaker at a Christian Business event a few years ago. At the time it was one of the largest that I had ever spoken at. Those in attendance were a fifty / fifty split between believers and non believers. My wife joined me at the evening, and we were sat at a large table with other couples who ran businesses in the locality. We really got on well with one particular couple who sat opposite to us. It became evident through talking that they had come along expecting to hear about business topics from the key note speaker. They didn’t know it was a Christian event, they had no idea that I was the after dinner speaker and they certainly didn’t know that I was going to share my story of how I came to know Jesus Christ.
The chairman of the event introduced the speaker (me) for the night to the meeting, as I got up to speak the couple we had been talking to looked somewhat surprised. When I shared my story of how Jesus Christ totally changed my life they both had shocked expressions on their faces. Their irritation was very obvious - they left quickly after the meeting finished and I have never seen them since. Praise God a number of people committed their lives to Christ that evening. All glory to Him.
When inviting people to church or events it is wisest to give them an idea of what to expect. I will often say something like:
“At the end of the meeting the speaker may well ask if anyone wants to follow Christ. Some people take up the invitation and some people don’t”. 
If it’s a church meeting I explain that:
“The worship will probably be different to what you expect. People may clap, even dance, but they do so out of experience and not just because the music is good".
People will genuinely appreciate honesty like this, and if they don’t come to Christ at the meeting, the bridge hasn’t been burned to pieces because the person concerned felt as if they had been duped into coming along. Very often an opportunity to invite them to something else may mean that they will come along in the future.
Be enthusiastic about the meeting or event: 
Enthusiasm is definitely contagious. When you explain about the meeting or event you are inviting them to, do so in a very positive way. Sometimes people invite non believers to church in really negative ways, explaining the meeting in this way: 
“The worship is likely to be wild, the speaker usually speaks for about 45 to minutes to an hour. Last week he spoke about crucifying sin in our lives. Come along you will really enjoy it”  
Speaking like that is very off putting! Don’t look disappointed or let down when a person says ‘No thank you’: This is very important as an “OK, perhaps another time then” leaves the door open. Some people will agree to come and even arrange to meet you at the door, but not turn up. They will give you a wide range of excuses for not coming:
Something came up at the last minute”, “I couldn’t find the church”,  “Or I wasn’t feeling well”.
 The strangest excuse that I ever got from someone who said they would come to a meeting was:
“I couldn’t make it because my grand mother’s neck started to bleed”. 
Whatever the excuses you get and no matter how strange they might appear to be, you will have to take them on the chin. Other opportunities will come along in the future.
Continue to pray and ask God to guide you: 
We have a promise from God that is a guarantee: 
“He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6
God is so good - He will always keep His promises to us. We just have to trust Him. Pray and listen, because God will direct your path.  He will show you when and who to invite. When you are prompted by the Holy Spirit amazing things will happen.
Your willingness to be used by the Lord will present you with plenty of occasions where you can invite people to functions. Some people will say yes and some will say no. It’s better to at least ask.
If they come along they will hear the Gospel and may come to Christ. It will be all because you asked them to come along.










Thursday, 8 December 2011

Witnessing to a professing Christian

This is a short excerpt from my soon to be released book, "A fall from the top" A true story of when I shared Jesus with a work colleague. Perhaps you know people like this. 

Another recruit called Iain joined the office from a banking background. He was a pleasant chap and was very popular. He was very intelligent and had won a very difficult quiz game on television. I let him know that I was a Christian on his first day in the job. He told me “I am a Christian and I go to our local church every Sunday”. “Great” I thought. As he got more familiar with colleagues I noticed that he swore a lot and even took the name of the Lord in vain. This disturbed me because if a person has truly given their life to Jesus the last thing they would do is use the name of Jesus Christ as a swear word. I decided when the time was right that I would challenge Him.

It wasn’t very long before I had an opportunity, when we were alone. I said “Iain can I ask you a personal question?” “Yes of course” he replied. I said “To be totally honest with you, I am a little confused. You say you are a Christian, yet you use profane language and have even taken the name of the Lord in vain”. He looked embarrassed and said that he didn’t realise he had done so. I said “Imagine a drunk on the street was being spoken to by a person who was trying to help him from a local church. During the conversation the so-called Christian used profane language. I think you’d agree that even a drunk person would realise that something was wrong”. Iain agreed and the language he used quickly changed.

I couldn’t leave it there though, so I spoke to him on a number of occasions and asked him when he had made a decision to follow Jesus. He admitted that he had never done that, but that he did believe the Bible. I asked him as I had done with Paul whether he thought that Jesus was in fact who He said He was and what he thought of the same verse of scripture. “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3: 5 NIV). His answer was just the same as Paul’s, "Oh, I don't think I believe that"

We had many conversations and as with Paul we had much common ground. But once again, we got stuck on that same fundamental truth. One Friday evening we were alone in the office and soon got onto the subject of the Lord. We talked about Heaven and discussed that no matter how good someone is, whether they go to church or give to charity they will not be able to enter Heaven unless their name is in the Book of Life. The only way of getting there is to be a true follower of Jesus. We discussed how no one would be able to enter the kingdom of God through his or her own righteousness or by doing good works: -
All our righteous acts are like filthy rags”. (Isaiah 64: 6 NIV)
 I used another verse to explain that a commitment is required from the heart: -
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' (Matthew 7: 21-23 NIV)

As we spoke I saw from his expression that he had had a sudden realisation - there was nothing he could do to earn his way into Heaven. He was a lost sheep just like I had been. Jesus had saved me by His Grace. I asked him “Do you want to leave here tonight with complete assurance that if you died today you would be in Heaven with Jesus?” He looked at me and said “Moray I’m not ready yet”. I replied “We will never be ready because there is nothing we can do of ourselves. Today is the day of Salvation. Don’t put it off, we can deal with this now if you truly believe”. “Yes I do believe” he replied. That was all I needed to hear. At that moment it felt as if God’s presence was very powerful in the office. I could clearly see that Iain was affected by it because he took a sharp intake of breath and stopped breathing for a moment. His eyes filled with tears. I asked, “Would you like to receive Jesus as your Saviour now?” He answered “Yes, I would”. We went through the prayer in the same way as I had with Paul. God is truly amazing! I couldn’t wait to tell Desiree the wonderful news.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Witnessing to family. Does it make you come out in a cold sweat?

Today I am going to talk about a subject that fills many people with fear. For some the very thought of doing this can bring them into a cold sweat, they become nervous, doubtful and as a result never share their faith with the people that they are obviously closest to. Their parents, siblings, aunts and uncles and other relations need to hear the message just as much as anyone else. But very often the fear of damaging a relationship puts people off doing what they desperately want to do - to see their loved ones come to Christ.

They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved -you and your household." Acts 16: 31

“This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people.
 1 Timothy 3-6

Key Point: Don’t feel guilty if this is an area you have struggled with in the past

The first thing to say with regards to this is don’t feel guilty about it if this is an area that you find difficult. It is common for many believers, so don’t give yourself a hard time about it. One of the first people I led to Christ was my mother. I had been saved for around eight months and had shared Jesus at almost every opportunity I got from the day I received Jesus as Lord. I had opposition from her initially but the Holy Spirit opened her heart to the truth. It was a great day indeed.

However, my two elder sisters are a completely different story. I put them off completely with my somewhat confrontational style, telling them that they were sinners and that they needed to repent. That was eighteen years ago when I first came to Christ. Since then I have had just a few opportunities to share Jesus. Each time has been quite awkward and difficult. Although I have noticed each time that they are a little more receptive. I want them to know the truth because I love them. I am sure that you find the same with your family members that don’t know Christ.

Remember that our close relatives know our short comings all too well. They know when we are grumpy, miserable and irritating. They may have seen us start weight loss programmes, exercising or similar things only to see us fail. When I was young I used to wind up my sisters by playing practical jokes on them, arguing and generally being a pain. Now suddenly I was telling them to: 

“Repent, for the Kingdom of God is near” Matthew 4: 17

The obvious change in me was difficult for them to take in.

As a motivational speaker and sales trainer one of the things that I would say to my audience was “You can’t buy years of experience”. It’s true; we only get that by learning through our successes and failures. 

So here are some suggestions that will make a difference when it comes to sharing Jesus with those who are closest to you.

1)    Prayer: It is vital that you continually lift your family up in prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to open their hearts, to open their blind eyes, to break down barriers. I’m am sure that you do that anyway, but I would go further and suggest that you be very specific in your prayers. I have said before, that God can open the hardest of hearts. Pray for opportunities.

2)    Lifestyle witnessing: Your family will be watching you closely. Demonstrate the love of Jesus through a serving heart, by doing things that you wouldn’t have normally done in the past. They will need to see you living out what you truly believe. If you get asked why you are doing it, gently share what Jesus has done in your life. For example, if you gossiped before you came to Christ, it must stop immediately, or you will be seen as a hypocrite.

3)    Witness to them while you are on your own without distractions: It is difficult to share the Gospel when someone is watching their favourite TV Soap or sports programme. Equally it can be difficult if there are other family members there at the same time. Pride can come in here and the person may object because they feel embarrassed. Pray and wait for the opportune time because God will provide it.

4)    Share the Gospel on a testimonial basis: Rather than make the mistake that I did by being confrontational and pointing out what I saw as errors in my sisters’ lives, the best thing to do is explain what happened to you, how you found Jesus. Tell them how God convicted you of your sins, your life, lying, stealing, adultery. (Whatever your sin was). Share how Jesus died for you and by accepting His forgiveness how your life has changed. If your listener has been receptive you can ask a question like “I realised that I was a liar and a cheat. Have you ever done anything that you know was wrong”? Their answer can open the door for you.
5)        Ask a Christian friend to witness in the same way: Sharing our testimony is an incredibly powerful way of witnessing. The barriers that may have been built up between you and your sibling or parents can be broken down through your friend sharing their story. It is amazing how it can happen.

6)        Don’t pressure them: That is exactly what I did. I pushed the Gospel down my sisters throats and as a result the job is now much harder. I have heard Christian say to their parents “Don’t you want to see your grandchildren in heaven”? That is not the Gospel in any way at all. People must recognise that they need a Saviour and that they must accept Jesus and ask Him for forgiveness.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Asking questions that get to the truth (Three Level Questioning)

As you witness to people about Christ you will sometimes get into heated discussions. Some people will make there position clear because they have made a firm decision not to believe in God. While many will make an argument that under questioning often will not stand up. This will often open the door for you to present the truth of the Gospel.

Today I am going to talk about a technique used in counselling, business and communication called “Three Level Questioning”. This is a huge subject, and I am only covering it very briefly. At all times you must rely on and listen to the Holy Spirit. He will direct and guide you as well as bringing all important scriptures to your memory. After all Jesus said that would happen. “But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” John 14:26

Before I came to know Jesus, I was pretty much anti God, and didn’t want anything to do with Christians. Looking back, I found them weak, and imagined them to be a little nerdy, or the train spotter type. I would often argue that there was no God, and that I didn’t believe in Jesus. I made that decision myself and didn’t really base it on much evidence that I had discovered at all. It was just a belief system that I had developed over the years, based on a couple of TV programmes that I watched and mainly because my friends, family and work colleagues had a similar opinion.

If anyone was to have asked me why I believed that and had taken the time to actually drill down to see how strong my beliefs actually were, they would have very quickly discovered that I wasn’t really sure about what I believed at all.

Jesus replied, "I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John's baptism-where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or from men?" Matthew 21: 24-25

If you read the Gospels you will soon discover that Jesus asked a huge mount of questions when he encountered people. By doing this He was able to quickly see people hearts. So with that in mind I thought it would be helpful to go through a technique that I often use that works. I will sometimes do this to find out what an unbeliever truly believes.

It is essential that you are not confrontational as you do this. We might win the battle but lose the person who was defeated. The first thing an unbeliever must see in us is the love of Christ. At the end of the day God is love.

People form their own perspective and views on life, which are built through, experiences, learning, films, TV and much more. Asking a few simple questions will usually get you to a point where both you and the person you are in conversation with will discover just how firm the foundations of their beliefs are.

I am using open questions in this example. Closed questions invite responses that are often quite short such as “No”, “I don’t think so” etc. The idea here is to get a person talking to you.


You are in conversation and start to share Christ. After a few moments your listener says “I don’t believe in God at all. I think that we just die and that’s it. There is no heaven”.

Question Level One: “That’s interesting, tell me why that got your attention”? Depending on the statement the person originally gave you, your question could include words like “Who, When, How, Where, How often”. (This is often known as data collection)

My answer before accepting Christ would have been “Er…well I saw a programme saying that aliens visited the earth thousands of years ago”. Plus I saw the film “Chariots of the Gods.

Question Level Two: “Great, so you are saying that watching a film and a TV programme gave you enough information to decide that there is no God or heaven. Let me ask what did you see that gave you feelings that there was no God” Other questions could include “What you feel about of think about, What does that mean to you, What are the implications of that, What interests you about that”? (The meaning, interest, feeling, attraction and interest level)

The truth is that I would have started to struggle here to define what I truly believed.

Question Level Three: “Why did you decide to believe that”? Other questions you could use are “Why is that important, Why does that concern you”? (The attitudes and values level) The “Why question is important. My children will often ask for something, like sweets, or because they want to do something. Sometimes the answer will be no. In almost all cases they ask me “Why”?

This is where most people will either be certain of their beliefs or unsure of them. You will in most cases know where you stand. The person who is firm in the beliefs will be a greater challenge, whereas the latter will be easier for you to share the good news with. In most cases asking questions build rapport and makes it easier to share your own experiences as well.

In either case the Holy Spirit can move a person’s heart. Jesus saves the most opinionated and hard nosed people. I have seen it so many times over the years. Give it a try sometime.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

When people meet you, do they meet Jesus?

My wife Desiree was recently preparing a message to preach at our local church and asked me to listen to the outline of what she was going to say. What she shared challenged me as she looked at me and asked, “Moray, when people meet you, do they meet Jesus”? The question stayed on my mind and my answer to it to be totally honest is “Well, the truth is, not all of the time”.

Considering this, I am unable to leave it there.  I feel prompted to ask you the very same question.

When people meet you, do they meet Jesus?

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven”  Matthew 5: 13-16

When I was a young manager in a wholesale business, my boss was known for his very changeable moods. From one day to the next you never knew where you were with him. I learned quite quickly that if he came to say good morning to me when he arrived at work, it would be a good day. However, if he went straight to his office, it meant the exact opposite. He would be miserable, grumpy and even angry for the whole day. On such days experience taught me it was wiser to keep my head down and avoid him like the plague. 

If one day he had told me that he was a Bible-believing Christian and perhaps explained to me how Jesus Christ had changed him for good, I would have been somewhat confused. Jesus is loving, not moody, grumpy or miserable. Where would the evidence be that Jesus had changed him?

As Christians we have to let our lights shine before men and be salt and light to them. We have to be like Jesus and people must see the effect of Him in our lives. Is that easy to do? My answer to that is yes it’s very easy……… when things are going well, when we are on top of the mountain and not in the valley, when we are not under stress or are just having one of those days. The truth is that in these times it is sometimes difficult to be loving, encouraging and positive.

I often say that living the Christian life is against the grain; at times it can be tough. Jesus said that we should forgive those that hurt us, pray for our enemies, share our possessions, give money anonymously. Oh, and turn the other cheek. It is only God’s grace upon your life and the Holy Spirit dwelling in your heart that enables you to do things like this.

Key point: Tough times in our lives become great opportunities for us to let the light of Jesus shine in our lives

In these times there is a great opportunity for you to let the light of Jesus shine. It has been said many times before that very often we are the only Bible that non believers will read. People that we know personally will watch and remember how we handle life’s challenges and difficulties. It is also good to be mindful that they will in all probability point out when you get things wrong. That is proof that your every move is being observed.

Are you the light of the world? Or is it just sometimes?

It is vital that we let our lives shine with Jesus. We have all met Christians who never seem to be totally happy and can even be miserable most of the time. When they go to church they look as if they are going for a root canal at the dentists’ surgery, and what’s more they come out of church looking like they have just had one! God’s “Chosen Frozen” as I have heard them described in the past.

When we have difficulties or tough days we must ask the Holy Spirit to help us to be like the One who died for us. We must be Jesus to our work colleagues, our families, the beggar on the street, yes ‘anyone’ that we come into contact with. Let your light shine through your personality, your lifestyle and your good deeds. This will give you a good witness and testimony. Very importantly people will be more willing to listen to you when you have the opportunity to share the Gospel because the way you live your life backs it up.

My wife and I had some very difficult situations to deal with which affected our family greatly. Some of her work colleagues knew all about it. On a number of occasions her co-workers have asked how she was able to remain positive with a smile on her face.  This has opened the door for Desiree to share her faith and as a result a number of them have come to church and accepted Chist as saviour. God is good. Believe me, people do watch us.

Are you salt? Or is it just when life is OK?

Salt is a flavour enhancer, it adds taste, making food more enjoyable to eat. Just watch a TV chef to see what they add when they cook. As believers in Christ we must be salt to those around us. The Holy Spirit will always help us with that. We must be ‘prayed up’ and ask the Lord to aid us in this area. He will if we ask Him.

Being salty means being positive, encouraging and simply a good person to be around. In other words where there is stress, being calm, where there is sadness or sorrow, being love. Let Jesus shine and be salt and light to the world around you.

When people meet you, who do they really meet?

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Shared Jesus and nothing happened?

Have you ever witnessed for Christ and had the thought that what you are saying seems to have no effect on your listener? In your conversation you explain with passion and great conviction about how Jesus died for our sins on the cross of Calvary. You continue to talk about His resurrection from the dead, about how He is in Heaven interceding for us. “You need Jesus” you say, or something like it. After what may have been your best ever Gospel presentation, nothing seems to have happened at all.
I have separated the scripture below into four groups. I will explain why as you read through this:
Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown” 
GROUP ONE: “As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them” Mark 4:15
GROUP TWO: “Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away”  Mark 4:16-18
GROUP THREE:Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful”  Mark 4:19
GROUP FOUR: “Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown” Mark 4: 15-20
The first three groups are very important. We must never shy away from sharing the good news with anyone. We must share the gospel out of our gratitude, love and obedience to Christ, and importantly when we* do, we must expect the Gospel to do its work.   
We know that people will reject the message on occasion, while others will receive it well, and cool off fairly quickly, still some others will accept the Gospel but let other things in their lives get in the way. These are facts of life. After all Jesus said these words.
It is worth sharing the Good News though, because Jesus said that some will accept it.  Brilliant! We must never give up on those who don’t receive the message well. I say that because once a seed has been planted in someone’s heart, amazing things happen.
My message today is about the sowing of the seed. I am not a gifted gardener, but I have planted seed before and I have reaped a harvest. As eleven year olds at school we were given seeds to plant in our allotments. We would water the seed on a daily basis, but initially nothing seemed to be happening. The day that I saw the first shoots of my carrots and radishes poking through the soil, I was thrilled. A few weeks later I proudly took my harvest home to show my mother.
We have to remember that when we sow the seed of the Gospel in someone’s heart we must be prepared to be patient, although on occasion you will reap a harvest almost immediately with some. That will often be because someone else has shared Jesus with them in the past, and they have been constantly watering that seed with prayer.

Key Point: Sometimes you will have to be patient when you sow the seed of the Gospel

When we sow, some of the seed will not germinate; others will start well and then not pull through, while some will germinate in the form of souls won for Christ. Sometimes you will reap them and experience the wonderful joy as you lead them to Christ, while others may accept Jesus days, weeks, months, or even years later.
I attended a men’s weekend in Scotland some years ago. A number of us shared our testimonies with the group. One man, who was a Rumanian told us how as a teenager, on one day out of the blue, his mother and father returned home with joy on their faces, explaining with great excitement how they had attended a meeting where their lives had changed as a result of accepting Jesus Christ as Lord.

He had eleven brothers and sisters all of which gradually over a couple of years accepted Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. His parents always talked about the Lord and encouraged him to repent and believe the Gospel. He rejected it totally, leaving home and going his own way. His mother continued to pray for him every day without fail for the next thirty years, until the day he called on Jesus to come into his heart.
He was a giant of a man who was completely unashamed as he shared his story weeping with tears running down his cheeks. God is so good. We will reap a harvest if we believe and do not faint. 

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” Galatians 6:9
Over the years I have spoken to people who have heard the message and later accepted Christ. At the time of hearing it, they were either not interested in the things of God while some were vehemently against it.

The seed will germinate in many hearts. People have told me how after hearing about Jesus, that some years later they suddenly had a desire to read the Bible, or they have dreams about the Lord. Others start to ask themselves is Jesus real, is there life after death? Many have a desire to go to church or just start asking questions. The Holy Spirit can move on the hardest of hearts. I know that for a fact, because he moved on mine.
Over twenty years ago someone witnessed to me and sowed the seed of the Gospel in my heart, which was totally hardened and against God. It was then watered in prayer and 18 months later I received Christ. I thank God for those men’s obedience.

Let’s get sowing the seed, because we never know what happens to it. It can come up quickly, or it can take a little time. Water the seed in prayer and wait.
As my wise old Grandfather used to say, “Patience is a virtue”.



Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Christian ... do you believe the bible is true?

The question is very simple and direct. I will ask it again with some more detail. If you are a born again believer in Christ, do you believe that the Bible is true? You may be saying to yourself, “That’s a strange question to ask”, or perhaps you are saying “Well of course I believe that the Bible is true”.

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man”  Matthew 24: 36-37

If you believe what the scriptures say, that is great. I made a decision to believe the word of God many years ago, from the index at the beginning to the maps at the back.

I am not going to get into discussions about eschatology, the tribulation or a post, mid or pre-tribulation rapture, or debates on what should or should not be fulfilled or anything like that. It is a contentious subject for some, while others become fearful if it is discussed, while some people even avoid talking about it. The subject is one that is not preached very often today for many reasons, the main one being a seeker sensitive approach. Simply I make the statement that Jesus is coming soon…..very soon, yes it could even be today, even while you are reading this. Scripture tells me that if you are not ready when He returns, it will be too late.

If you say you believe the scriptures, I suggest it raises a few very important questions that you should be asking yourself.

·         Do you believe that the return of Christ is really imminent?
·         If you do, how does it affect the way you live your life?
·         How does your belief in this affect your Christian witnessing?

In a recent blog called “Are you grateful for the cross” I stated that real gratitude to Jesus for His atoning death at Calvary should compel us to witness for Him. The realisation of the truth of what Christ has saved us from becomes outworked through a willingness to share the Gospel with those that don’t know Him.

Your belief in the scripture mentioned above will undoubtedly determine your attitude towards sharing your faith with others. If you genuinely believed that the world was going to end tomorrow, or that a catastrophic event like an earthquake or tsunami was coming to your area, would you keep it to yourself, or would you tell everyone that you knew about the impending danger?

In that situation you would surely do the latter. The truth is that Jesus is coming soon. We need a sense of urgency to share the Gospel, because we don’t know the day or the hour.

For in just a very little while, "He who is coming will come and will not delay. Hebrew 3: 7

“Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” Revelation 22: 12

I am not suggesting that you buy a megaphone, get a sandwich board and stand on the corner of the high street bellowing out “The end of the world is nigh”. Rather, I am asking you what you truly believe. We are living in a time where some churches ……. dare I say it ….. are either sugar coating or diluting the Gospel so that it becomes more palatable. 

Key Point: Be honest with yourself about what you truly believe

This isn’t preached very often because to speak of it means having to face up to some hard truths. I am not suggesting that you preach it either, but instead be honest with yourself and examine how your belief in the scripture you have read determines the urgency you have in your heart to be a witness for Christ.

The scriptures are not all easy to accept. In fact many of them are very direct and challenging. Jesus knew what He was saying when He spoke these words:

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law  a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household” Matthew 10: 34-36

I included that scripture in a message I preached a few years ago. At the end of the meeting one of the church elders spoke to me and told me that he hadn’t heard the scripture preached on for ages. On another occasion I shared about Christ’s return. Some people told me that they had never heard a message on the subject, while one elderly couple said that they were gripped by the message and scriptures they heard. As a result they couldn’t sleep that night. Those people were God fearing, Bible-believing Christians.

What we believe determines our attitudes. Ask yourself about your beliefs with regards to this important topic.

My first pastor of sixteen years once told me to study this area, to discover what I really believed and importantly, to find out why I believed it.

Why don’t you find out for yourself?

Thursday, 27 October 2011

What type of Christian witness am I?

What type of Christian witness am I?
Have you ever asked yourself “What type of Christian witness am I”? By that I mean, how exactly do you go about getting the message of the Gospel across to people? We are all different and so naturally the way we share the good news about Jesus will vary too.

Some people are very direct while others have the opposite approach. Here are some different witnessing personality types for you to consider.

Does the way in which you witness fit with any of these descriptions?

Key Point: There will be a method of witnessing that you feel most comfortable using

You may be like me and use many, or even all, of the suggestions listed below. However, there is likely to be one method which you use more than any of the others because it feels the most comfortable way to you and therefore you are more confident with it, too.

1) Confrontational:   Do you confront people's fears or objections in a very direct manner when you are witnessing? Ever been told that you are quite blunt when you share the Gospel? If so, there is a good possibility that you may be like Peter, with a very straight forward and confrontational style.

Jesus was like this at times, when He asked direct questions and expected direct responses from His listeners, such as the occasion when He asked the disciples a vitally important question: 

"But what about you?" He asked. "Who do you say I am?"  Matthew 8: 29

2) Invitational: Both the Samaritan woman and Levi are great examples of this when they invited people to meet Christ. Some Christians take this approach, inviting friends and others to church services or church events and activities, hoping that they will be able to see God in action. It is a ‘low pressure’ way of bringing someone along to a meeting. Some Christians are very successful in inviting others always managing to bring someone along with them to church for almost any event. My wife Desiree is outstanding at this method, as people respond readily to her outgoing and friendly manner when she invites them.

"Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them." Luke 5: 29

"Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?" John 4: 29

3) Intellectual: Many people have an intellectual viewpoint often developed through their education or working environment. Paul the apostle favoured this approach to witnessing. In fact, he often used logic to get his message across. An excellent demonstration of this is found in the book of Acts where he gave logical reasons to believe in the "Invisible God”. 

"For He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the man He has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead." 
Acts 17:31

4) Testimonial: Sharing your personal testimony of salvation through Jesus Christ is extremely powerful.  Explaining the way God helped you through some tough times or how you came to realise that Jesus was a real person often gets people to listen with interest, because people love to hear stories, especially ones that are true. If you share in this way, then you are similar to the blind man in John 9 when he told the Pharisees he believed because Jesus healed him. His incredible testimony helped others see that Jesus really was the Way. 

"The man answered, "Now that is remarkable! You don't know where He comes from, yet He opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does His will. Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, He could do nothing." John 9:30-33

5) Bridge Builder: Some Christians much prefer to witness individually. Sometimes there can be a period of time before they are ready to share their faith. They like to get to know the people that they share their faith with, and they tailor their conversation to each person. Jesus often did this with small groups as well as individually. He showed this with the Canaanite woman, when initially He appeared uninterested in her request for help. Then He responded to her with these words:

"Then Jesus answered, 'Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.' And her daughter was healed from that very hour" Matthew 15:2

6) Service: Some Christians prefer to be examples of Christ through their lives, allowing the light of Jesus to shine for all to see: in other words, living out an evangelistic lifestyle. Dorcas was a very good example of this through helping the poor and leading by example. Many missionaries witness through service rather than through words alone. Witnessing in this way speaks volumes as there is a practical demonstration of the love of God behind the actions. 

"In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which, when translated, is Dorcas), who was always doing good and helping the poor." Acts 9:36

Which style matched your personality?