Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Witnessing: God can give you the keys to reach a persons heart

When we step out in faith to witness for Jesus, the Holy Spirit will bring scriptures to remembrance, which is incredible when you think about it. I believe that He does something else as well. That is, if you rely on him to guide you as well as listen to him. He will give you a key to present the gospel in a way that will open a person’s heart.

This is an excerpt from my new book “A Fall From The Top”, which is available in the next few weeks. Have a read to discover exactly what God did.

I have been very blessed, over the years to lead a number of work colleagues to Jesus. I am certain that anyone who has ever worked with me would confirm that I never hid the fact that I am a follower of Christ. I tried to bring Jesus into my conversations during the working day in one way or another.

When I sold my Financial Services business I was retained as the branch manager of the office in Swansea. We were on a recruitment drive and I contacted an applicant called Peter. We had a chat on the phone and I invited him into my office for an informal interview. He was in his late forties and had recently moved back to Wales after a very successful career in the City working as a Marketing Director for a very large pharmaceutical company. He came across very well during our meeting when we got onto the subject of Tenby where he lived. He told me that he owned a small guesthouse there that his wife managed.

He said, “Have a look at our web site when you are online”. I put his address in my search engine and within a few moments I was looking at his web pages. The site had a bold heading, which read “Christian Run, Family Guesthouse”. I said “Hey, that’s fantastic I am a Christian as well, how long have you been following the Lord?”. He said, “I go to church with my wife in Tenby. I’m a Methodist”. “That’s terrific” I replied, “When did you decide to follow Jesus?” He replied “Follow Him?” I said, “You know what I mean, I made a decision some years ago to follow Jesus and became a Born Again Christian and have never looked back”. He looked at me a little awkwardly and said, “Oh no, I don’t think that I’m Born Again”. I replied, “Well, if you don’t think you are then you are probably right, you are not”.

We met on two more occasions and he joined the company. He was an extremely professional adviser. Over the months I worked with him I introduced the Lord into conversations, and we had some in-depth discussions. He believed that you didn’t need to be born again to go to Heaven. I asked him as I have done with many people, “Tell me Peter do you believe that Jesus Christ is exactly who He said He is?” “Yes of course” he replied. I then asked, “Do you believe that the Bible is true?” “Yes of course I do” he replied. I continued “Do you think that Jesus would tell a lie then?” “Definitely not” was his answer. I then quoted John 3:5 ““I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” “What do you think of that then?” I asked. His answer like many others was “Oh I don’t believe that is true”. I replied “Well you just said that Jesus wouldn’t say something that was a lie”. I could see that he was irritated so I stopped there.
The discussions continued over a period of months. Sometimes we talked for an hour or two in the evening when the other staff had gone home. We agreed on many points except this fundamental scripture and others like it.

One day after another heated dialogue I said “Peter, I have got to say that based on all of our conversations I believe you are so close to the truth. Peter you are almost a Christian”. I could see that what I said annoyed him a little, so we left the matter there. I knew that what I had said was confrontational but sometimes I believe you just have to speak out in truth. The famous Evangelist Smith Wigglesworth who I love to read about once said that when you preach the gospel you would either make the listener mad or glad. On that day I suppose I made Peter a little mad with me. I left the office in a hurry that day for a meeting and forgot all about what had happened between us.

The next week he sat at my desk with a very serious look on his face. He said that when he went home (on the day I made him mad) he decided to go on the Internet to see if he could find anything in the Methodist Church web site about being Born Again. He eventually came to a site that contained a number of sermons by John Wesley, the famous Methodist preacher. When he preached the Gospel many people would turn their lives over to Christ there and then. Peter said, “I found this sermon by John Wesley called ‘Almost a Christian’. I read it and it has really disturbed me. I would like to have a meeting with you to discuss it”. “No problem” I replied with great enthusiasm. We arranged to meet in a couple of days in the early evening when everyone had left the office. I visited the Wesley web site and printed off the sermon and read it thoroughly. The message was preached in the year 1741 and was very much clear. It explained that acts like going to church, being a good person, singing in the choir, giving money and even praying didn’t matter at all. None of that would get you to Heaven unless you gave your life to Jesus Christ. It is a wonderful sermon, which I recommend.

I had explained to Peter on a number of occasions what the sermon contained. The decision to follow Jesus, to make Him Lord of your life, to repent of all of your sin and to turn from self-will to God’s way. I had explained when someone does that and means it from their heart then a miracle happens and they become Born Again by the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit literally dwells in them and their lives are never the same. The only way into Heaven is just as Jesus says: - “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me”. (John 14:6 NIV)

I looked forward to the meeting with Peter and prayed to the Lord to give me guidance. We discussed the Wesley message at great length and I even shared part of my own journey to faith in Christ. But I still couldn’t get Peter, a well-educated and intelligent man, to understand what the message truly meant. As a result we kept getting stuck on the same point. I went over it again and again but he just didn’t understand. I prayed silently “Lord please guide me”. I looked at my watch and realised that we had been talking for two hours. I asked him “Can I explain simply to you why Jesus died on the Cross?” He agreed and I went to the corner of the office and brought over a stand up flip chart. I said “Let me show you something that was in a little tract that was given to me, that both challenged and annoyed me years ago”. “Sure” he replied.

I spent the next five minutes talking about the tract that Mike had given me and did my best to draw the simple diagram on the pad that explained the Fall of Man and the reason that Jesus paid the penalty for our sin. I was concentrating on what I was saying and drawing and so didn’t notice what was happening with Peter. After a little while I looked at him to see that his eyes were full of tears. I asked “Peter, do you believe that is true”? “I do,” he said. I continued, “Would you like to say a prayer with me and ask Jesus to come into your heart?” Yes please” he replied.

We sat in the office and I led him through a simple prayer where He asked Jesus to forgive him of his sins, and made Him Lord of his life. I suppose the way that I got through to Peter was by communicating the message in a way that he could relate to. He had been in many meetings over the years where a flip chart had been used. My drawings were not exceptional but the Holy Spirit used those simple sketches to open Peter's heart. He was transformed and is now bold in proclaiming his faith in Jesus Christ and is even a volunteer for the Bible Society. Praise God!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Is there anything you can do to witness for Christ?

The Lord hasn’t called every believer to be an evangelist; but Jesus clearly commanded all of us to be witnesses for Him. It’s in black and white, (or red) if we read the gospels. Jesus wants us to share the good news.

It’s simply a fact we can’t get away from. I would like to challenge those readers who are reluctant to share the gospel, for whatever reason, to step out your comfort zones and do what the Lord has commanded. People hold back for many reasons, often fearing rejection: but when you speak out, relying on the Holy Spirit, amazing things start to happen!

Key Point: When you rely on the Holy Spirit, amazing things will start to happen

The instructions that we were given by Jesus regarding being a witnesses are indeed very clear:

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" Matthew 28:19-20

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” Mark 16: 15

It has been my experience that many Christians can get into the I will it leave to others type of mentality. In fact that’s not just for witnessing, it can be for many other things, like attending church prayer meetings, giving finance to the church as we should and serving in the church in some capacity. The list can go on and on as there is much that we can do. James, the earthly brother of Jesus, described very clearly in his book how we should be.

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like” James 1: 22-24

We are called to be ‘hearers and doers’. It’s important that we all ‘all’ try to do something out of obedience to Christ. Yes, out of obedience. Not because He was ordering us to do a chore, but rather that we obey out a love and gratitude for what He went through for us to purchase our forgiveness on the cross.

When people give their last words on their death beds, they are usually important and therefore remembered. These are the last words that Jesus gave His disciples before ascending to heaven, so we have to consider that they were of great importance to Him (and to us. Yes, Jesus does command us to tell others about Him. There is no hiding the fact. Now you may ask, "Why me, surely there other people who are more equipped than I am to do that? After all I am not a pulpit or Gospel preacher”. In reality the number of people who preach from the pulpit is very small. However, Jesus desires to use you ‘you’ for His glory. He has an amazing plan for your life ‘your life’ and part of that involves sharing the message of salvation.

Telling others about the Lord Jesus gives you the wonderful opportunity, through the Gospel, to affect the lives of others for good! Honestly, what could be better?  There are many ways that you can do this.

The fact is that we must do something in one way or another. Let me ask you a question. If you haven’t been sharing Jesus for any reason, it’s not a problem, because we can change that today. I ask you this. What is there that you can do?

Stepping out as a witness for Jesus involves putting your faith into action. Remember that you don’t need to stand on a street corner for hours with a megaphone and a sandwich board. Everyone can do something that will forward the kingdom of God. We just need to be willing, make ourselves available to the Lord and He will do the rest.

We have the Holy Spirit who will always accompany us when we do something for the Lord. He will empower you and help you. He will give you the boldness to share if you ask Him.

Listed below are a few ideas that you could use in order to follow the commands of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. They are all quite simple to do.  Using any of them will give you an opportunity to chat to people and show the love of Christ.

  • Tract distribution.
  • Organise a meal / barbeque for friends and unsaved neighbours.
  • Help at the local supermarket carrying shopping to cars.
  • Get together with a team of people and offer to help people with their gardens and lawns.
  • Hand out Christian newspapers on the streets.
  • Complete some Christian street surveys with the public. These are non confrontational and fun to do.
  • Hand out free hot dogs near the colleges at lunchtime. Free food will guarantee that you will have people to talk to!
  • Distribute leaflets door to door for your church.
  • Feed the poor and needy.
  • Get out with an evangelistic team as a support. You will find yourself getting involved very quickly.
  • Help out at ‘young mothers’ groups run at your church.

These are just some thoughts. Remember, Jesus wants our obedience. We follow His commands because we love Him so much because He gave everything for us.

What can you do for Him?