Sunday, November 1, 2009

Best Practices of Our Faith - Evangelism Part 2

John 1:1-14 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light. There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us…” (NASB)

Salvation: Lewis Chafer notes 33 gifts given to us in the salvation instant. In Volume 3 of his 8 volume Systematic Theology work he explains the changes salvation brings in details. This is who you are in Christ! You can do amazing things - this is on top of all the other neat strengths and gifts He has given you as an individual.

There are 3 priorities I want to leave with you about sharing your faith. Too often we can get caught up in programs or details or ourselves or fear when we try to share your faith. Relax and be yourself, but think about these 3 things.

Initiative: We read in 1st John that we love, we are capable of love, because God first loved us. Go took the initiative to restore the broken relationship with us. It is called the incarnation; where God became flesh, God became man. He went out of His comfort zone, gave up His rights and privileges, and became one of us. John 1:12 says that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The book of Romans tells us while we were yet sinners Jesus died for us. God modeled initiative with us; we can follow in His steps. I have seen some studies where they asked non-Christians whether they would go to church and what it would take to get them there. It was amazing how many said they would go if they were invited by a friend, and it was equally depressing that most of them said they had never been invited. Take a chance this year and invite a friend out to something. Maybe it won’t be a morning service, maybe it will. Maybe it will be our Christmas banquet, or another special meeting we do for fellowship. Maybe it will be a special Bible study or something we hold in our house. If you want me to come and do a study for some people who need Jesus, all you have to do is ask and I will be there (At least in Saskatoon). There are some great studies we can get for those wanting to discuss religion, or who want to know more about Christianity.
How many of us started going to church because our grandparents or friends invited us? Billy Graham Crusades were so successful not just because Billy preached from the Bible, but because many of the people were there because some Christian friend or family member took them. You are the only link to Jesus for some of the people in your life. Take the initiative, and pray for the opportunities.

Intentional: When football is played, 12 guys line up against 12 guys (The NFL has its roots in the CFL so...). Do they go out on the field and wander around, wondering if something might come their way? No! They have set plans on both offence and defence. Even if they aren’t catching the ball they go out and run a pattern to draw the defence away from where the ball is going. While watching the Riders play yesterday, I heard that Hamilton’s offensive line has not allowed a sack of the quarterback in the last 3 games. Those guys on the offensive line have a job to do, even if they never plan on touching a ball for the entire game. Without them, the quarterback is in big trouble.
So it is with witnessing. That word witness is about having a testimony of an event. When we talk about witnessing for our faith, we are referring to what God has done in our lives. You have to be intentional; intentional about understanding your story and intentional about witnessing. God has a playbook for your life. Quarterbacks carry all their plays on a little wrist thing - yours is here in this book called a Bible. Get to know your Playbook inside out.
There are 3 stories in life. The first is God’s story. We talked about that last week. That’s the story of God redeeming people. It begins in creation with the creation of man in His image, runs through the Fall in the Garden of Eden and then what God did to restore that broken relationship. It is about Him becoming a man so that in dying for our sins we are given the freedom to follow Him as we turn to God in faith.

The second story is your story. It has 3 parts. They are:
1) Life before God
2) How you met Jesus; how you “got saved”
3) The change that God has done in your life since

When I was a kid I know I lived for myself. I had good ethics because I grew up in a good family concerned about community, but I had no hope nor footing in life. One day after church I went home and gave my life to Jesus. I had heard the stories of God in the Bible, and I came to understand that for hope and a footing, I needed Jesus to forgive my sin and I needed to follow Him. Jesus has never left me since. I have had good times and a few rough times in the past 40 years since Jesus came into my life - but I have never been left on my own, and I have come to understand fully why I am here on this planet. Life is messy, but God is love.
That is my story in a nut shell. You need to be able to articulate that story for yourself. You don’t have to dwell and relate just how bad or sinful you were; we get it. You need to share that encounter with God where you realized you needed Jesus. You can simply lay out the way to Jesus as you explain what happened in your life. The third part is where you talk about what Jesus has done in your life. What has He done. This is a good exercise in to help look at the reality of God in you.
As we read both the Old and New Testaments we see again and again lives changed by Jesus and God’s grace. The book of Acts again and again shows God at work. How does that compare to your story - what is your story? One question I like to ask new people I have met whom I know is a Christian is how they came to be following Jesus. That is your story. Take some time this week and write out your story. Keep it simple, and just follow those three parts.

Listen: The third story is the other person’s, the one who doesn't know Jesus yet. You have been challenged to be praying for a few people who need Jesus. How well do you know their story; their struggles? In order to know that you have to ask questions, but then you have to listen. Understand that it is God who saves. We can’t talk someone into heaven. We simply share what God is doing and has done in our life, and then ask people where they are at. We listen. We want to know where they are at so we can pray for them, and provide the answers to many of life’s problems through Jesus. We want to be a real friend, not just have an agenda to “Reach them” for Jesus. Yes, they do need Jesus and they probably don’t know it, but it is easier to love someone into the kingdom than to talk them in. In your listening, the Spirit can give you the right words to share and the right things to do to help. If you are too noisy and full of yourself, you can miss God’s message. You can and will miss the key needs they have. Is their marriage falling apart? Don’t push that away just because you want them to “get saved”. God will meet them in the midst of their crisis. Listen and let God lead you. It is a holy thing to see someone begin to follow Jesus. It is amazing that He uses us as part of that process.

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