The Sower the Seed and the Soil: First the Natural then the Spiritual (Part 3: The Soil)

The Sower, The Seed & The Soil

Wayside Soil

Consider a moment the farmlands of Israel in Jesus’ day. Rather than thousands of acres of rolling plains where the seed is sown and harvested by machinery they were plots of ground with an edging of ‘wayside’ (downtrodden) soil around the plots. 

These edges allowed the farmer and travellers traversing across the fields to walk upon them without harming the structure of the soil. For generations, feet had downtrodden such wayside soil, it had never been ploughed or tendered. 

Although it may be good soil it would need a lot of care in order to seed it and produce a hundred-fold harvest. Wayside soil is so hardened and packed it lacks oxygen. Water runs off it. Any seed that falls here simply stays on the hard-packed earth until the birds of the air pluck it up. 

Jesus likens wayside soil, not only to a hardened mind but also to one that lacks understanding. It also acts as a warning of how diligent we must be with our own mind, to be mindful, to keep it alive, creative, fresh and fertile, teachable and easily entreated, well ploughed and ready to receive the Word of God (Ezk 2:4; 3:7).

Let Wisdom Have Her Perfect Work

Proverbs teach that a woman called Wisdom cries out to simple folk at the crossroads, where daily decisions are made. For example, wise people are giving sound advice continually, wherever people meet and talk. Wisdom makes her boast of bestowing riches, honour and long life; wisdom comes from having a mind that under-stands rather than over-stands. 

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. A proud mind has no understanding. Understanding comes from listening to wise counsel. It requires applying the Word of God to the circumstances of our lives, choosing the right way making the right decisions, and walking in the light. It means choosing to walk in the right direction (Prov. 1:20-25).

Be Fruitful and Multiply

The farmer who goes out to sow the seed must first be a partaker of the fruit (2 Tim 2:6). In other words, the seed one carries to others is the result of fruitfulness in our own lives. It is no good for us preaching on repentance, (turning around), active faith, or walking in the Spirit when we are not living in those truths ourselves. Only what we possess can we give away. 

As farmers working in God’s fields, we would do well to consider and understand why people do the things they do. In evangelism, it is no use us reacting to their reactions. To understand why they are reacting so negatively to the gospel will help to make us become a link for them.  In helping seeking people discover the answer their healing that they seek can manifest. 

Wayside, hardened, downtrodden soil

This kind of soil is easily discernible. The impenetrable steely eyes and hard-line of jaw and lips are all signs of hurt and pain. This condition is often due to abandonment and rejection. We have already learned in another paper published here about leprosy eating away on the inside of the victim.

Soil needs water

This kind of compacted soil is in any age group or culture. It is best prepared for future sowing by watering, through prayer and intercession. The word ‘intercession’ means ‘to come alongside and lift’. To intercede on behalf of people means doing practical ministry. 

Break up the Soil

Teach scripture in small bite sizes: easily digested. When coupled with genuine love and acceptance this help to break up and oxygenate the downtrodden soil. For example, nothing beats a caring extended family environment for today’s youth. 

Forgive

When this type of fresh readily dug soil in the hearts of the believer is encountered by those hurt by life, when they begin to mix with believers walking in the spirit of God’s immeasurable love, forgiveness will break up the hard wayside soil. The result will be a repentant heart towards God (Psalm 51).

Care

My ministry took me into the streets mainly amongst youth that was in crisis. As well as accommodating up to nine of them in my home at any one time, I would hold an ‘open house’ twice a month. Up to thirty young people would attend. 

The open house was strictly for youths in the church that did not have caring parents, or those living alone or off the streets.  In this way, it acted as an outreach for street kids. 

Feed them

There is a fantastic opportunity for those in evangelism to create this sort of environment: food for the body and spirit, fellowship, and fun with steady solid, down-to-earth Christian workers involved. However, as was my experience, churches do not assist those with a heart for this kind of ministry. They alone are left to carry the burden with a few hard workers and to bear the burden financially. 

Support

One man, a greengrocer in the church where I carried out this type of ministry offered for me to come to his shop once a week and choose a box of veg and fruit at no charge. Everyone can help to sow the seed and bring in its harvest. 

How wonderful, how beautiful when the body has a good relationship with itself (Psalm 133:1: Patricia’s paraphrase). 

Be Thoughtful

I suggest we stop putting our money in a bag passed around. We have no idea where it goes. Instead, sow seed where we’ve been planted. What can you and I do?  

If not me, then who? And if not now, when?

Coming into a church service can be a culture shock for those unused to it. Entering a warm and welcoming home environment is not so confronting. 

Give Thanks

Any gardener knows that once hardened soil is broken up, it can be nourished and fed and will produce a harvest. A hard heart is replaced by a heart full of thanks as we give praise to God. This is called giving to God the fruit of our lips. 

Love

By giving thanks to God the Creator through our Jesus Christ our Protector, Provider and Saviour, the resurrection power of God is released through love; it brings hope. 

Hope

Hope is the anchor of our souls. It conveys security. This kind of sowing in love brings reaping with joy. It causes souls to be born again, set free from the condemnation of the law of sin-and-death brings. 

Faith

The Holy Spirit is the one who teaches us how to sow and reap. We must always turn to God who gives wisdom and counsel. Ask and we shall receive.

Have a heart

Downtrodden soil has been pressed down by the sheer weight of the feet that pass over it. In the main thoroughfares of life, we will find downtrodden soil. Other people’s opinions are important to those with downtrodden soil. They are fearful and sceptical. 

Some are lost

For some, the greed of other things, position, and power, love of this world, enter in and believers fall away. Instead of servanthood, they seek a name, identity with the world, prestige, public approval, money. All the trappings of outward adorning become more important than God’s approval. 

Give Love a Chance

Living by the ‘sweat of our brow’ is living under a curse, relating to the first creation and the fall. The believer is a new creation. Old things passed away. I’m not saying stop work. All I am saying is give God a chance to use us. Lift up our heads and look around. What is that in our hand?  Give what we have, not what we don’t have. 

Natural Creation by Design

Now, in the natural, all of creation is at work to disperse seed, such as birds, animals, snails, fish, tortoises, alligators, bats, wind, water and even ants. Some seeds are hitchhikers, like the burr and attach themselves to wool and travel all over the world. Some have wings to help the wind carry them. 

There is a plant called ‘dwarf mistletoe’, in the USA. It is worth mentioning for what it could symbolize here. Pressure builds up in the womb of this seed as water passes in one direction across its membranes. The pressure then causes a building up inside that literally blasts the seeds out over distances of up to forty-eight feet with an initial velocity of about sixty miles per hour. 

For our exercise here these natural examples might be likened to the Word of God at work in a person’s mind when it receives continual watering of the Word, kind deeds, and the like. Faith in the Word builds up until finally, there is no holding it in or down. 

New Wine and New Wine Skins

That is how churches and new ministries are brought into being. New wine and new wineskins produce revival that will blow the cork off any denominational bottle. Any doctrine that is attempting to subdue and control the Holy Spirit’s power in an individual’s lives will fall away.

Enemies of the Gospel

Just as the birds and all other creatures assist in scattering seed, so too do the enemies of the gospel. These are people who have a personal stake in not wanting others to be saved. They will attempt to steal away the seed sown. The main work of these people is to afflict and persecute the believer. This is in their attempt to stop the Word from taking root in the seeker’s mind. 

Remember, Jesus Christ upholds all things by the Word of his enabling (power). Without the Word of God taking root deep in our mind, we will be a woman or a man of doubtful reasoning, being of a double mind, unstable in all our ways. 

When the Word of God is sown, its enemy comes immediately to steal it from the hearers (Mk 4:15). It is easily done if their minds are as ‘wayside soil’. Wayside soil will not yield any growth; the word disappeared before it even has time to germinate. These people need a change of attitude before they can receive the Word of God. This is able to save their souls. This kind of soul-winning generally requires friendship evangelism. 

 

Now I’m free Lord, Now I’m free. I’ve flown free from the coup. I’m free as a bird. You’ve broken their feeble self-apportioned puny fabricated authority. Look up. See that bird? We’re as free as that bird in flight  (Ps 124:7 (Patricia’s paraphrase). 

 

Next time: Uncultivated Soil


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The Sower the Seed and the Soil: First the Natural then the Spiritual (Part 2: The Mustard Seed)

the sower the seed & the soil

Read Part 1 here

Page 2 of 6: The Mustard Seed

The Mustard Seed Tree

A little research into the plant world will reveal that the mustard bush does not grow into a tree. That is totally alien to its natural growth. By Jesus saying the mustard bush changes into a tree, he is drawing our attention to two things happening here simultaneously. They do not measure up to the laws governing nature. 

Therefore, where unusual growth happens and in this instance the mustard bush becomes a tree and as a consequence the ‘birds of the air’ come and nest in it – this is unnatural. That tree has not grown from sowing the gospel seed – its planting may be the result of a mixture of seeds.  

Keeping Within The Laws Of Nature. 

Observe the church for instance. There can be throngs of people attending, but no-good seed being sown. No rich teaching of the kingdom truths. 

I’ve gone into church preaching and training and as a consultant to help the leadership and the people to show how to grow the local church. I might go into three churches a day on a one-month tour into a country or region. On the other hand, I might go into one group of churches over a month and work with them daily to train people in it.  

Being subjected to that kind of exposure left me in no doubt that the visible church is not perfect. The visible church is often a large tree that’s grown out of all proportion to what it’s supposed to be. 

Birds of the air nest in trees

There, nesting in that tree there will be some wrong teachings, some people in it for their own ends, con artists in it for the money, worldly Christians, immorality, you name it. Jesus said let the mixed seeds all grow together. Harvest time will reveal their true nature. 

Jesus said this unnatural misnamed ‘mustard tree’, when fully grown, attracts ‘birds of the air’. Wherever the term, ‘birds of the air’, is used in Scripture, it is symbolic of rotting meat-eating carrion birds, and not harmless doves. 

Israel’s farming methods were in accordance with their laws: no mixed seed. Jesus is saying in effect, ‘A farmer (inadvertently) sowed mustard seed in the field. Embedded in this parable is what the listeners would know. 

The mustard seed is not a large seed, quite small in fact and insignificant in comparison with all the seeds on the earth. Often, it is only grown for the purpose of being ploughed back into the earth again as a nutrient for the soil. When it is fully grown, it develops into a large bush. 

No one wants thousands of mustard bushes in their plot of ground. To sow mustard seed is to cut it down and plough it back into the soil. Its nutrients are released to prepare the soil for the next sowing that takes place. Not all sowers reap the harvest, but all good harvests need sowers for soil preparation to prepare for the final harvest. 

Now, any gardener knows a shrub (many short branches growing from the one root into a bush) and a tree (having only one trunk) are completely different. (Matt 13:31-32). The point Jesus is making is, that something very unusual begins to take place that is quite out of character with the mustard seed.

While it remains a bush, we can assume it was mustard seed that was planted. However, where a tree with one trunk begins to take shape and grows so big that its branches attract carrion birds of the air to nest in it, proves it was mixed planting – not only mustard seed but another kind of seed.  

Jesus goes onto explain how anyone making observations of the Kingdom of Heaven will become aware of this unusual growth. When this ‘change’ happens, the household of faith, the church, takes on a new appearance, an unconventional character. It is no longer a ‘mustard bush’. 

The Kingdoms Of This World

Having left its first estate, it no longer represents the Kingdom of Heaven, but rather, it takes on the image of the kingdoms of this world. Where this happens the ‘birds of the air’, the vultures, such as the cults, the counterfeits, the power-hungry, the false workers, the hierarchical patriarchal power-hungry, and the politicking, all come and lodge in its branches. 

Church history, with all of its bloody wars as well as the increase in cults today and the fallout from the church, all proclaim a ‘works’ gospel. Some powerful trees have been planted in the earth and throughout the centuries have propagated ‘another gospel’. This confirms Jesus’ analogy. 

The Gospel: the least of all seeds

The humble mustard seed, on the other hand, the ‘least of all seeds’, should grow as it’s supposed to. It grows into a ‘kingdom of God’ mustard bush. The local church is in likeness to this metaphor. The leader is known, their kids go to the same school as yours. It retains the same flavour and essence those early believers exhibited. 

They mixed with the locals. They were involved in the local community. They went everywhere gossiping the gospel, doing kind deeds, speaking a kind word. They sowed common-looking small seeds, as they went about their business. This is not quoting text, this is acting it out so that the person can see and understand the message. 

The disciples, ordinary women and men, turned the entire world upside down. They did what comes naturally to the believer. Like birds that depend on one another daily for their needs to be met, they tell those in the local neighbourhood about the provision they’ve found. 

Gospel sowing is simple work

Mustard seed has its work to do of renourishing the soil. It is the simplest work, in its purest form, is to nourish the earth. Where it’s ploughed back into the soil, cast abroad, sown throughout the known world, dispersed by the wind of the Holy Spirit, scattered everywhere, it will have a different effect on different people, irritating some, feeding, nourishing, replenishing, and healing others. 

The mustard seed is also an irritant; it is hot. It makes the eyes and nose water. It was and still is in some places used for healing the sick. Mustard is hot. It bites and it makes the sick person who is languishing sit up and take notice. The local church is to be like that. Springing up from a random seed sown where no one had particularly planted it.

Where the seed is scattered in the community surrounding the local church and believers, its effect can be seen. Its presence makes people’s eyes smart. Others start to feel very hot wherever it is sown. For others, it causes them to sit up and take notice, or, where ploughed back into the community, nurtures the soil of people’s minds. 

Some seeds have an interesting appearance. The mustard seed has no outward appeal. The Gospel, the Word of God, is like that. When preached in simplicity, is not like other teachings, such as a doctrine of works. 

Debaters And Philosophers Of This World

Those who love to debate, use ‘great swelling words’. These can be used even to show off someone’s intellectual prowess, or the like. (2 Pet 2: 18). They are often mingled with worldly ideas, of getting rich quick schemes. 

It underscores vanity, ego, of ‘who is the greatest’ in the kingdom, of boasting and self-love. Its structure will definitely be hierarchical, with men only in the lead, women in their non-teaching, non-decision-making roles. 

Jesus himself is the Word become flesh. It’s not about us, it’s about Him. The Scriptures say He was nothing to be desired. He was hiding until his appearance, which lasted on this earth just three and a half years. 

When carrying out the work of the evangelist, take this, the principle governing the seed. It is the key that opens all the locks of a set of teachings on life. All of life on earth springs from a seed. The seed that gives birth to Spirit is the Word of God. It never changes. 

Become a sower by taking up the seed and sowing it wherever we go. Allow the Word to become flesh – let it become our life. Give all of our life to its propagation. 

Take what we can see in the natural world and use these as examples to teach spiritual truths to people. Learn ourselves by doing it and then teach others the spiritual principles springing from them. These spiritual realities are meat, reserved for those who are ‘grown up into Him in all things’ (Eph 4: 15). 

Natural to Spiritual

The Creator God has given to us the natural realm to learn about realities in the spiritual realm. What a wonderful world! What could be simpler for us to understand than seed, soil, and harvest? God has created the seed to reproduce itself, after its own kind. Whichever kind of seed is sown, its fruit will be reaped. 

The sower can affect the seed sown and there are many ways to do this. But finally, the main ingredients that can affect the seed sown is the soil’s condition, water, and light. This is the basic teaching we receive from nature itself. It is as unchanging as seedtime and harvest, summer and winter, light and dark.

“Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you”. Genesis 1:29 Source.

Next time: The Soil


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The Sower the Seed and the Soil: First the Natural then the Spiritual

Paper 1 of 6: First The Natural Then The Spiritual.  

A Parable is telling a story about the visible creation.

In the early days of Jesus’ ministry, he spoke plainly to those around him. He told  parables. Jesus parables were stories about the natural things easily seen by the things that God made: the Creation. However, when His plain teachings and his reasoning were rejected, He began to veil these teachings of the kingdom (Mt 13:10-12). 

There were those hungry enough to pose the question, “what does the parable mean?” These had already engaged with the story and its teller. They received and entered into it to learn its embedded spiritual lesson (Mk 4:10). 

‘For whosoever has, to him shall be given and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not from him shall be taken away even that he has. (Mt 13.12)

seed and soil

Jesus Taught In Parables

A parable is not always the immediate lesson we might attribute to it. Parables are stories. Stories stay with us. They touch the heart. They bypass the mind. They’re easily understood. This is why we remember them and what they teach us whereas reading text by rote method or downloading the ‘facts’ do not. 

For example, it’s hard to find someone who does not know what the story of the ‘Good Samaritan’ means. Or the ‘Good Shepherd’: the one who leaves a flock of ninety-nine sheep to find the one that got away. When you think about it, this is not good shepherding!   

When Jesus used it his hearers knew he was not teaching them about being a good shepherd. The parables Jesus taught are teachings on the kingdom of God and the spiritual principals involved. You might say that the parables and the gospel point to an Upside-Down Kingdom – or we might more accurately say, a Right-Way Up Kingdom.

Upside-down world

Jesus teachings are the other way around to the way we think and live our daily lives. To find a parable’s true application sometimes requires deep thought, of us thinking outside the box, or even trying standing on our head to see it differently. 

A story breaks through our mesmerised daily living, speaking our daily scripts about the world from out viewpoint, the way we see ourselves and others in comparison to who we think are. We could say we go around in a dream, acting mindlessly.

We even drive our cars that way. We often ‘come to’, having driven a distance on ‘auto-pilot’. Parables jolt us into the reality of what the kingdom of God is like – and it’s nothing like the way in which we live in our bodies in this external world.

The semblance of the parable however is veiled; it is not always stating the obvious. The more we learn through experience about the Hebrew Scriptures and the good, the grace, and the justice of God and his righteousness, the easier it is to understand and interpret Jesus’ parables. 

Parables and Fables: the Difference 

The word ‘parable’ means, ‘a placing aside, to compare, though not always in agreement’. It is generally drawn from nature or human circumstances and the object of it in the bible sense is to set it forth as a spiritual lesson. The hearer must catch the analogy if they are to be instructed. This is different from a fable, which attributes to things that do not belong to them in nature i.e., half man and half beast, etc.

The Parable Of The Sower. 

      1. A farmer
      2. The various kinds of soil
      3. Seeds
      4. Harvest 
      5. The enemy of success

Jesus likened the kingdom of God to a mustard seed, a nondescript uninteresting common seed that no one would worry about if some were lost. It’s like seeing a one-cent coin on the road. Few would stoop to pick it up because on its own its worthless. But if one had a million of them then we would go and cash them in. 

The Working of Miracles

Now, in the kingdom of God everything has value, everything counts. God doesn’t take anything for granted. Neither should we.

The poor are rich in faith. Any evangelist worth their salt lives in the realm of faith on behalf of themselves and the poor. Evangelism is the ‘working of miracles’ because it’s the poor in spirit that seeks the riches of salvation. A new creation is a miracle. People getting saved is a miracle! 

Evangelism takes us sowing seed amongst the poor. It’s no-good encountering hungry people and sending them away to buy some food. When the disciples told Jesus to do that he put it back on them and told them “you give them something to eat”. 

So, if you’re an evangelist, working amongst the poor, it apparently isn’t of any use asking Jesus to feed them. He’s not in the business of feeding people. He had already dealt with that temptation, “If you are the son of God turn stones into bread”. “Nope. That’s not what I’m here for”. 

He was not going to be side-tracked from his goal. He had to go to Jerusalem as it was the time of the Passover. That was the miracle he was looking toward, the miracle of the resurrection. He didn’t ask the disciples to do what they could not do but only to feed people. 

Show People How To Work Their Own Miracle. 

I’ve helped people work their own miracle by giving them some money and instructing them they can use it for themselves, but I recommend that to work a miracle they find someone to give it to. You’ll even work your own miracle by doing that!  It will be a double blessing: for them and you. 

I was in the UK last year editing this when I gave a kind word to a bloke passing me in a food shop. I was at a table with a friend having a coffee. He said his name was Carl. He was homeless, living in his car, and had no job. I gave him twenty pounds which is all I had. Someone had given it to me, and I was passing it on. I instructed him to give it away and in this way work his own miracle. 

Within five hours of that, I got given a selection of new suitable clothes. I needed some warm clothes as I’d come from Australia unprepared. Now, following our conversation a business owner/ friend heard the story. She offered to interview Carl for a job and provide him a place to live. 

The irony is Carl never answered his phone or returned my call to get his miracle. We never heard from him again. It was only a small seed I know. A kind word and twenty quid, but it worked a miracle of provision both ways. 

Sadly, he didn’t collect! But maybe he did and I just don’t know about it. So, this is the kingdom of God we’re talking about; it’s different from the way this world operates.

Size Does Not Matter: The Mustard Seed 

Returning to the parable of the seed. Jesus is attempting to get us to think about the micro in life, to pull our thinking processes back from the macro. The micro is not the big picture, but it belongs in the big picture. 

Jesus made an interesting statement when teaching his disciples the meaning of the parable of the sower. He challenged them, “don’t you understand this parable? If you don’t, then how will you be able to understand all the others that I give you?” (Mk 4: 11: Matt 13; Lk 8). 

By this, Jesus is saying that this parable is more about the seed and the condition of the soil than it is about the sower. Of course ultimately God is the Sower, we are the field, the seed id the Word of God … but, first the natural.

Speaking of natural things it can be any sower. It’s the combination of the soil and the seed that take precedence as any wise gardener knows. This parable is the master-key for us as evangelist’s harvesting a good crop. 

From The Natural To The Spiritual

Here Jesus is first using the natural to interpret the spiritual truth behind it. This same principle of interpretation, that of ‘first the natural, then the spititual’, can be used to unlock all of Jesus’ teachings. This is the key to having eyes to see the spiritual unseen Kingdom of God. An illustration of the seed in relation to the kingdom (household) of God is in Mk 4:30-32. 

Seed Grows Gradually

Jesus is speaking here about a gradual process of growth, instead of the sudden manifestation of the kingdom. The parable of the mustard seed in the first instance may be referring to the commandment that prohibits the sowing of diverse kinds; it may be that the seed gets inadvertently planted amongst other seeds. 

Here, we might deduct from what Jesus is saying is that the gospel seed may be sown among different types of people when they come together, say, chatting about everyday things. I have witnessed this many times when watching television interviews or listening to the radio, as well as in everyday witnessing where there is a group of people together. 

Different messages are on repeat and I detect a grain of gospel seed got mixed up with other seeds being sown. Jesus does not say the mustard seed is the smallest seed in the world (because it is not).  However, it is insignificant. 

Sow Common Insignificant Seed 

Instead, He said it is less than all the seeds that are on the earth. The common unadorned gospel seed, like the mustard seed, is a seed sown in relation to everyday life. It doesn’t require an orator. Ordinary people can sow it. 

Mustard seed is also like a weed that grows wild amongst crops. Keeping in context with the teaching about the kingdom, Jesus also infers that the gospel seeds get mixed up with other seeds. For example, I’m suggesting it can appear throughout the conversation, wherever people gather to talk.  

When someone is sharing a humanistic perception of life, simply say, “no, I don’t believe that”. “Rather, this is what Proverbs says …. “. Give to them that are weary a kind word in season. Get into the habit of doing it. First, it breaks the monotony of everyday life for them and you. You’re also on their candid camera. A kind word in season is like a mustard seed that a person sows into another’s life.

The right word at the right time is like a commissioned piece of jewellery. Just what you wanted. (Prov 25:11-12.)

Be An ANGEL in Disguise

To be a specialist in the communication you must practice. Practice makes perfect. Cast a small seemingly insignificant seed into your neighbour’s spiritual garden as they walk out of their gate by smiling and greeting them! Speak a word to them at the right time. God is listening to perform the counsel of his messenger. Be as a divine messenger, an angel, would you?  

A-N-G-E-L is simply a transliteration of the exact Greek letters. In English lingo, it actually means ‘messenger’. Hey, while you’re wheeling in your own bins off the street curb, why not take in the elderly neighbour’s bin for them?  Or pick up that bit of paper in the roadway or in the workplace or home. Someone’s got to pick it up. Why not you?

Apart from helping to deal with the litter problem, someone observes you and it changes their day. Give a person a seat on the bus; it influences others. You figure it out. A word or a deed, in season, changes the dynamics around us and God is waiting to perform the word of God’s power. You and I are God’s messengers. 

This is like, in the natural, lifting two tins of peas three times a day to strengthen our muscles. In other words, when change is essential, do something different! Anything! 

For as the rain comes down and the snow from heaven and does not return back to the heavens but waters the earth and makes it bring forth a flower that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater’. 

‘So shall my Word be that goes out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me empty of power, but it shall accomplish that which I want it to and it shall prosper in the thing where I send it’. (Isaiah. 55:10-1)

We are workers together with God.

Next time: The Mustard Seed


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Boldness & Faith

GREAT NUMBERS OF WOMEN PREACHED THE WORD.

‘The Lord gives the command.  The women who announce the good news are a large army’ (lit. translation paraphrased by Patricia)

The worker’s compassion

When talking to someone about Jesus, begin the conversation with the object lesson that presents itself at hand.  If at the surf, talk about the wonder of the tides.  If in the snow, bring to their attention the difference in every snowflake and the wonder of creation.  Look at nature in a new light.  Look at the natural visible creation for a parable to teach about the invisible.  This is one of the most enjoyable ways of witnessing that I know.

So, you are keen to begin?  Here are some tips.

Everyone is called to witness, it’s a sure sign of a grateful heart.  However, I notice that very often that boldness in street evangelism is particularly associated with those newly saved.   Having recently come out of the world, they can identify with the run of the mill populace.  They readily display their ‘leprous scars’ to those they encounter.  It is no great culture shock for them to return to the world, carrying precious seed.

Once they start to study, become ‘rooted and grounded’ in the love of God, they can ‘grow up into all things’.  Once firmly established in Christ they will lead many souls to the Lord.  They know what they have been delivered from.  They carry a torch, often going into dark places where as the saying goes ‘angels fear to tread’.  They have a burning desire in see others living in the darkness, as they once were, come into the glorious light (1 Tim 2:14; Jude 3).

The worker’s zeal

Certainly in my own experience, the new believers seem to be the ones who are zealous to share the good news.  On the other hand, I have met many who have been Christians for years who long to win souls.  They read every book and attend every seminar on evangelism, trying to catch the fire needed to GO!  (Isa 40:1-3; Heb 13:13-14; 11 Chron.  29:11).

Those who came to faith when young often feel they lack something because they don’t have a startling testimony of a former sinful life.  It’s all very well to have a startling testimony.  However, bear in mind, effective evangelism is not based upon somebody’s testimony, but upon what took place 2000 years ago at the cross and the resurrection of Jesus.  It is not even necessary to have a dynamic testimony of instant conversion.

My advice to those of you who fit the second category is to get alongside new converts; meet their friends, socialise with them, spend some leisure time with them.  (Ex 4:12: Isa 60:1; 1 Cor 7:29-31).

Finally, it is those Christians who are experiencing the grace of God in their lives and pass on this testimony who will win others to Christ (Jer 1:7-8; 17-19; Isa 58:12).

Develop a desire to carry out the Great Commission by reading inspiring biographies, studying books such as this and by prayer.  Pray to God.   Cry out for a burden for those you are witnessing to.  Get alongside someone who does it.  It’s definitely catching.  Preaching the good news is a command (1 Cor 15:58).

I went, but not because I heard a loud voice from heaven commanding me to go.  In 1985 when I set off to go into the world to preach, I did it because the Word says ‘Go into all the world and preach’.  I answered the Great Commission.  I said “I will go Lord, send me” (Isa 6:8).

The evangelist is not necessarily one who is forever ready to give testimony of their experiences, however amazing they may be.  Instead, develop the art of being a patient and compassionate listener.  The one who chatters on regardless, always ready to tell his or her life story, with no interest to hear the life experiences of others, will not be as successful as the one who listens (1 Cor 13:3; Gal 6:9).

Learn how to clearly express yourself verbally.  The ‘nit picker’, who must interrupt every sentence or explain every facet of the conversation to the ‘nth degree’, will fail to communicate the gospel effectively.  Here are some examples of effective preaching [1]

The worker’s diligence

Practice sharing the Gospel wherever you go. When no one else is doing it, you do it. Be diligent, (Ecl 9:10; Gal 1:10; 1 Cor 9:17). Read every tract you come across. Doing so will help you to learn how different people share the Gospel.   Write a tract with what you want to convey.

Do not be put off by the criticism of others who are not zealous for the gospel’s spread (Jn 9:4). Develop your own style and technique. Ask God for discernment in the different situations you encounter. Be prepared with a word in season for those you meet who are weary (2 Cor 8:23). Pray God to give you a like-minded partner to work with you (Rom 12:11).   Collect a selection of comprehensive tracts (Matt 5:13-16)

Develop yourself in all areas, seeing it as a ministry and a call: God will make a way (Col 4:17; Jn 6:27; Acts 26:16). Abraham Lincoln said, “I will prepare myself and my time will come”.  Study the Bible for insight and wisdom (Prov 11:30; Dan 12:3; Eph 5:15; 6:14-20). You must be a wise person in order to win souls.  It cannot be done haphazardly (Col 4:5).  Remember, some that think they have it, do not, and others who have barely dreamed they have it, do!  So, if you are not sure but have the desire, go to it and God will confirm with signs following.

Women workers

The God we serve is a just God, a God of equal balances and weights, and Wisdom is justified of her children! The field is the world, the good seed is you and me scattered throughout the whole world, witnesses of God’s majesty.  Planted like trees of righteousness, ready to bring forth fruit in its season.  Whatever we do shall prosper, if we heed God’s Word.

Women are in a good place to be witnesses to the women they meet in many places that mainly women frequent. This might be school, shopping centres, coffee-mornings, etc. However, sometimes women retire from leading any kind of a public life. Women in the church have been so pushed down and squeezed into moulds of man’s making that they are afraid to show any signs of courage, force, strength of mind virtue (Heb ‘chayil’).  Let’s take heart from the examples in the Old Testament.

Deborah

Be like Deborah, the judge of Israel, who called Israel to war. She was tired of the social injustices against women and children.  It says that the streets and the highways and villages were unsafe to walk through, until she decided to take some action; ‘I, Deborah arose, a mother in Israel’ (Jdg 4 & 5). 

Jael

Jael’s family were blacksmiths. She had plenty of practice using the tent-hammer! Her husband was a friend of Sisera, the ungodly marauder (who represents the world). However, Jael was on the side of good.  A friend of Israel, she defeated the enemy in her own house, by her own ingenuity (Jdg 4:21-22).

Abigail

Abigail was married to Nabal a drunken, inconsiderate fool.  Nevertheless, she took the situation into her own hands. She staved off a war that would have wiped out her and her household, not to mention the life of David, the future King of Israel.  Nabal died and she became David’s wife.  (1 Sam 25).

Sarah

Sarah was tired of Abraham’s nonsense and demanded that her household be brought back to a monogamous relationship, placing the blame squarely on the shoulders of Abraham.  She cried out in the Spirit, ‘The Lord judge between thee and me’.  God told Abraham, ‘obey your wife’ (Gen 11 – 25). 

Five daughters of Zelophehad

The five daughters of Zelophehad did not accept the status quo with unjust decisions that excluded them from inheriting land.  They demanded their rights, Moses sought God for direction, and they won!  God told Moses that they were correct, that women could inherit the land (Num 26: 3; 27:1; 36:11; Josh 17:3).

Ruth

A young Moabite woman, Ruth, is called a ‘virtuous woman’.  In simple English this means she was courageous. Because of God’s graciousness.  She was a Moabite yet through marriage was brought straight into the covenant relationship God had with Israel.  Moabite men were not to enter the sanctuary for ten generations (see Deut 23.3). But ‘entered the sanctuary of the Lord’ and indeed is counted in the genealogy of Christ as the wife of Boaz. The seed of the woman was not restricted to race. She was not an Israelite by birth.   Note here the original covenant God made concerning the Seed of the woman was with Eve. There were no restrictions placed upon women by God then, nor has there ever been.

Naomi

Ruth might have chosen the traditional road, to return home to Moab to live a fruitless life in widows’ rags. However, she knew there was an inheritance that was rightfully hers and she purposed in her heart, together with Naomi, her mother-in-law, to gain it. Naomi applied pressure to the situation. By sending Ruth to the threshing floor, she demanded that Boaz fulfil the law and act as her kinsman-redeemer; that she might take back all that was belonging to her from her dead husband (Ruth 3:11).

 

Huldah the Prophet

Look at the virtue, the courage, force, and strength of mind of Huldah, the Prophet.  Huldah interpreted the law to the High Priest, the Prophets and the King.  Her teaching started a mighty revival (11 Kings 22:14; 11 Chr 34:22).

Sherah who built fortified cities

Sherah would not accept the defeat of mind displayed by her parents.  Their sons, her brothers, had been killed, Philistine cattle rustlers slaughtered them.  Sherah arose and built three great cities in Israel.  Solomon later fortified these cities.  High in the highlands where the enemy could be held back, she left her imprint on one city she named after herself ‘Uzzen Sherah’, for her posterity, and presumably, to live in and govern and rule in her virtue (1Chr 7:24).

Lydia: the first church in Europe

The New Testament also has something to say about women of boldness, courage, and substance.  Lydia was found beside a running stream when Paul arrived in Phillipi.  Scholars agree this was most likely the site of a synagogue.  There is ample proof that women were mothers, elders, and leaders of Jewish synagogues in this era.  A businessperson of great wealth, Lydia planted the first church in Europe.  Perhaps God is calling you to do the same in your suburb or district.  Never underestimate God.

Samaritan Woman

The woman at the well planted the seeds for the first church in Samaria (Jn 4).  Perhaps it was she who opened her house to Phillip and others when they came down later to minister.  Why not?

Anna the Prophet

Anna, was the daughter of Phanuel.  Some say this means ‘Peniel’, because Anna, like Jacob, wrestled with God and prevailed.  Anna was of the tribe of Asher.  When Jesus was brought to the temple for circumcision, Anna, at 84 years of age, became the first herald of the good news.  She praised God and went out to ‘speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem’   She was the first to announce to them the arrival of their Messiah (Lk 2:38).

Women at ease

Why am I telling you this?  To exhort women as well as men to arise and fulfil the call of God on your life, to become what God wants you to be!

Time does not permit, nor is it the chief goal of this lesson to teach on women in ministry, except to say half, nay, near three-quarters of the church is muzzled.  Woman you an evangelist?  Then take heed, stir up your gifts, and use them.

No husband or church leader will answer for you on that day when you stand before the Lord, the governmental head of the church and your spiritual head, the One who will separate the sheep from the goats.

You must give an account for the gifts that the Spirit bequeathed to you and show how you have used them.  ‘The host that publish the Word is a great company of women’ (literal translation: Ps 78).

The worker’s responsibility

The worker has a responsibility to speak. The Holy Spirit has work to do through us. The Spirit goes before us, preparing the way to carry out work that we are unable to perform without the Spirit. Understanding the power (ability) of the gospel inspires us to share with people the good news about Jesus and what he has accomplished on our behalf.

There are so many examples we can give when some opportunity presents for us to share from the mundane things of life.  We are assured, as we walk in the light, as we stay filled with the Spirit, we will see the results we desire of God.  So, use every opportunity, know that the Holy Spirit is with you, and bear witness to the truth of the Gospel of God’s grace.

For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord (Acts 11:24).

The silent witness

Is there any such thing as a silent witness?  For example, is your idea of aggressive evangelism, dial-a-prayer?  Or, is it a bumper sticker on your car?  Do you think that just by you driving to church on Sunday morning will win the neighbours to Jesus?

The worker’s emotions

When you are witnessing, there is always a great flow between the mind and the emotions.  This is a passionate witness for the Lord.  When we are excited about something, then our emotions are involved.  What we think is often expressed by how we feel.  Another words, our spirit is frequently expressed through our emotions.  If we do not mix our feelings with our spoken words then we will not have a great impact on the hearer.  This is what makes for great preaching.

Jesus was feeling passionate about his message and the lost state his nation was in when he drove out the money-lenders out of the temple (Jn 2:13-16).  Jesus, on the great festival day, made a passionate plea to the listeners.  He stood up and cried out, saying, “If any one thirst, let them come to me and drink”. Such a heartfelt address would have the effect of motivating the hearer.  The result of this was division!  So there was a division among the people because of Him. Jn 7:40

She that believeth on me as the word says, out of her belly shall flow rivers of living water!  (Jn 7:38).

The worker and opposition

When you become so passionate about the people around you, that you stop bowing to the fear of what people might think about you, you enter into a new freedom.  You become free to effectively witness and preach.  Start yielding to your convictions, and you will encounter the same success (and opposition) as Jesus did.

With this opposition in mind, I am writing here especially for those radical passionate loud mouths in the body of Christ, who everyone keeps telling to be quiet.  You know who I mean.  Those dear folks who actually think God is saying, “Go and tell everyone unless I specifically tell you not to.”  They are so passionate about what they believe they just tell everyone!  This is a word of encouragement for all you loving fanatics.

Please remember that you can laugh, you can cry, you can radiate joy.  Your emotions can be spontaneous, but still controlled by God’s Spirit.  The going forth of the word coupled with the corresponding emotions will assist the Holy Spirit to work in people.  Our spirit is released through the spoken word.  If we remain silent, how can our spirits be released? How can people be saved?

When you live a life dedicated to being a loving witness for Christ, all of your living will then also act as a witness to your faith.  This may cause you to experience opposition from some people.  Persecution comes from the most amazing quarters and often when you least expect it.  People who say they are walking in the light but are actually living in the flesh will come out of their corner fighting.

The gospel and revelation

It says of Jesus that ‘he went about doing good’.  Jesus’ words and actions brought opposition.  For example, the thoughts, and intents of the Pharisees’ hearts were revealed by their words and action as they opposed him.  As their minds closed off to truth, they found themselves in opposition to God and God’s Anointed One.  When this happened, their understanding was closed.

It is possible for people to completely shut out revelation coming to them from the Holy Spirit as you share what the Word says in everyday language.  This is a precarious place for them to be in.  They cannot receive from the Spirit of God.  Those refusing to accept the light attempt to find fault with the truth, and the light of God is closed to them.

This state is different to people who are ignorant, or who, for some reason or other, have turned off because of disillusionment, say, with the church.  When you encounter people who have hardened their minds to what they know to be true, do not argue with them.

Many times, I see zealous people, young in the faith, sharing their faith in the street, and my heart is glad.  However, on occasions, I see people doing personal evangelism arguing with people they are talking to about the Lord.  It is better to be quiet than to argue, trying to prove a point.  Debate and discussion are one thing but when the witnesser begins to argue with others it is quite another.

If people have shut themselves off from God’s revelation, be assured your argumentative spirit will not break through.  You must leave off from trying to convince them and pray only as you walk the walk before them.  Only God in His mercy can find a way.

The worker’s motivation

There are two kinds of wisdom spoken of in the Word of God: worldly wisdom and divine wisdom.  When Paul visited the Corinthian Church, he mentioned them both.

For Christ sent me to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ be made of non-effect. (1 Cor 1:17).

We first encounter worldly wisdom ‘a thing to be desired’, by Eve, in the early chapters of Genesis.  Scripture tells us there is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the Lord.  Worldly wisdom is misleading, ending in death (Prov 21:30).

There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. (Prov 16:25).  It is folly and increases sorrow.  (Eccl 1:18).

The wisdom that comes from the Lord is easily recognisable.  Scripture says,

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. (Jas 3:17).

The wisdom that comes from God is pure.  It is not mixed with the religious teachings, the pagan religions, or occult or anything the New Age offers.  Next, it is peaceable.  Arguments play no part and nullify the righteousness of God found in Christ.  Gentleness is a beautiful attribute in any Christian worker.  Gentle people are easily entreated and full of mercy and good fruits.  All workers for the Lord must at all times examine their motives when preaching to ensure their words bring life to the hearer.

The worker’s patience of faith

To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life (Rom 2:7).

 Be patient toward all. (1 Thess 5:14).

 Gentle, able to teach, patient. (2 Thess 2:24).

  Having heard the word, keep it and bring forth fruits with patience. (Lk 8:15).

Patience of faith in personal evangelism equates as friendship.  Make friends with folk.  Show interest in what they are interested in.  Become a good listener.  Allow their need to surface because until it does, you are not going to win that one to Christ.  People cannot be saved until they know they have a need.  Get involved in peoples’ lives.

Invite them for a meal; go to their home for a coffee and supper.  Genuinely admire and love their children, their home, and their achievements.  Praise them and be genuine about it.  Cultivate their friendship  Win them to Christ, not drive them away.  No one is going to share secrets with a stranger.  They have to feel they can trust that you are the genuine article.  Therefore, be genuine, not a false worker, pretending friendship, defrauding them, that is the way of the cults.

The worker’s preparation

Preparation is a lifetime commitment.  What we do with the time God gives us every day begins to tell as we go on in our Christian experience.  Let me explain further.  You may be just a few years old in the Lord and have not really settled down to daily study and prayer.  You may be zealous of good works and running around feverishly, ‘serving’ Jesus and the local church, but your personal life lacks lustre.  Time will tell.

The race is not to the swift. (Ecc 9:11). 

This life with Christ is not some one-hundred-yard dash and the fast talkers and energetic, charismatic types are the ones who have ‘got it’.  No!  We must practise as if we were preparing to be long distance runners.  We need to daily stop for our intake of living water, our communion with God in the Word, saturated in God’s Life Giving  presence.

This is not dependent on how fast you can run.  It is entirely dependent on the indwelling Christ.  Jesus warns “without me you can do nothing”.  So stop!  Take stock of your life.  Are you preparing yourself for the years of service ahead, or are you the ones Paul speaks of who are destined to be castaways?

They made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept. (Song 1:6c).

The worker’s opportunity

Opportunity is around us all the time, but we so often miss it because we have not prepared.  To be truly effective in this work of God we must prepare.  It is not just attending Bible College or listening to CD/DVDs.  We must commit ourselves to study for the rest of our lives if we are to be effective, and it starts today.  Begin to discipline your lifestyle.  Give quality time to the Word and determine in your heart to be the best you can be for God.  Finally, people want to come and pick fruit from you.  Study to show yourself approved unto God, a worker that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

And they shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth their fruit in his season; their leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever they doeth shall prosper.  The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff, which the wind drives away. ( Ps 1:3-4).

The worker’s joy

Here is the secret of a spirit filled joyous heart.  Jesus said these words:

For whosoever hath, to them shall be given, and she shall have more abundance; but whosoever hath not, from her shall be taken away even that she hath (Mt 13:12).

Acting on truth will multiply that truth in your life.  The slogan is, ’use it or you’ll lose it’.  Wherever joy is mentioned in the New Testament is in relation to obeying the Word of God.

The seventy returned with joy after obeying Jesus commandment to go, preach, and teach. (Lk 10:17).

Jesus said, “keep my commandments and you will be full of joy!” (Lk 15:10-11).

There was great joy in Samaria because Philip obeyed the Holy Spirit and people were being saved and healed (Acts 8:8).

The disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:52). 

In other words, when we give, it produces joy.  If we are just receiving all the good teachings God has sent, and not giving it out, then dear friends, we are deluding ourselves.  We are not retaining it or growing.  In order to fulfil the dominion charter, given to the first man and woman, which says, ‘be fruitful, multiply, and replenish the whole earth’.  To be a blessing, give where you are able to give rather than receive.

The worker’s’ faith in action

And the little maid said unto her mistress, Would God my Lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria!  for he would recover him of his leprosy (2 Kings 5:3).

Here, in this verse, we see the witnesses’ poise.  The little maid [2]had confidence in herself, she trusted in God.  She reveals an assurance in God’s power and in God’s Prophet, Elisha, who typifies Jesus, healer and Saviour.  She is forward and bold in speech.

Her boldness and faith are directly linked to her love and empathy for this couple.  By this she is enabled to identify with the needs in this family.  Perhaps her mistress broke down and wept one day in her presence.  This will only happen when mutual trust is built up.  People will only share their innermost thoughts and feelings when they trust you, and you have been willing to share your own needs with them.

Her statement reveals she is full of faith in God.  That which he has promised, he is able to perform.  Snatched from her family and friends at a very young age, the little maid is living in a strange culture and household.

She is like Daniel and the young men with him in the palace of Babylon.  She determined to live the life before her captors.  She knows her God.  Daniel 11:32, 33 says but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.’ ‘And they that understand among the people shall instruct many. 

The eyes of her understanding had been enlightened.  Like Queen Esther, the little maid knew the hope of her calling.  Esther had counted the cost.  She said, ‘and if I perish, I perish’.  And ‘who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?’ (Est 4: 14-16).

The little maid‘s actions act as a good example of friendship evangelism.  She has put her whole trust and confidence in the God of Israel.  Likely, in the time she had been there, she had built up a reputation of honesty and dependability, for his glory.  Then, when she spoke these words she was believed.

The Worker’s Privilege -Turning water into wine, seeing the invisible.

 

Witnessing is done in obedience to the direction of the Holy Spirit.  The way to introduce the Lord into your conversation and begin teaching the people about spiritual things is best done through everyday conversations and events.  The bible teaches that there is a visible and an invisible world (Romans 1:18-21) that the unseen reality is made plain by the material visible realm.  The things we see, feel, touch, taste, and smell are a ‘type’, or, a manifestation of the spiritual truths they convey.  Can you see it?  God created this world and everything in it to teach us the spiritual or the unseen reality behind the visible.

Evangelists intent on sharing the gospel, have to find ways to turn water (the natural) into wine (the spiritual).  Turning water into wine, was Jesus’ first miracle, at the wedding in Cana.  This example provided the foundation for the three and a half years of His ministry here on earth.  Jesus explains this same approach to Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.  “How can I teach you spiritual (heavenly) things when you can’t even receive and comprehend and understand earthly things.” (John 3).

From the moment Jesus stood up in the synagogue, ten days after the Rosh Hashanah feast, (his purported birth date according to the Messianic Jews).  He read from the book of Isaiah the prophet, (Ch 61:1).

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised; to preach the acceptable year of the Lord (Lk 4:18-19). 

Why did Jesus choose that particular day to read these words?  Because, on that same day, every three and a half years, those words were read again in the synagogue.  The Torah and other related Scriptures were read every Sabbath in the synagogue, and it took three and a half years to complete the cycle.  (It is now read in one year).  From that time on, Jesus began to manifest, through his life, actions and words, the full and total physical manifestation, the embodiment of the Logos, the written Word of God.

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life. (1 Jn 1.1).

Jesus the Logos, fulfilled every text read out on the Sabbath throughout the week, even the jot and tittle was fulfilled.  From this time forth, He turned the water into new wine.

For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the father, and was manifested unto us (1 Jn 1:2).

And the life, the eternal zoe, the written text that we hold in our hands, (and gathers dust on some bookshelves of so called believers), was manifested before their eyes.

They heard the word read aloud on the Sabbath, and actually saw the Word in action through the daily life Jesus’ lived through the week.  His teachings (doctrine) astonished the Jewish leaders.  He was followed by the multitudes.  If you had lived in that day wouldn’t you run to the synagogue to hear the reading on the Sabbath, then follow Jesus to see the Word take on flesh and blood, as ‘the Word became flesh’, to those present throughout the week?  

2 Corinthians 3:16-18 The Message (MSG)

16-18 Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are—face-to-face! They suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. We’re free of it! All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of God’s face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.

Patricia

END. 

 

 

 

[1] 2 Chr 15:1-15, Jn 3, Acts 2:14-41, Acts 8:5-12 + 27-38, Acts 9:20 + 13:16-43; Ps 96: 2,3,10.

[2] Request: ‘Pattern for Evangelism’. Rwvm.online

Turning Water into Wine

Freedom in the Spirit to tell others the good news

Parables are hidden and veiled truths. When Jesus is speaking in parables, he is not stating the obvious.  When Jesus wanted to teach Nicodemus about the Holy Spirit, He likened the Spirit to the movement of the wind in the trees (John 3).

If the same Holy Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in you, it will quicken your mortal body and you become another kind of being.  The bible calls this being born again. The Spirit of God dwells in the mind.  We are to have the mind of the Spirit.  We acquire that by hearing the Word of God.  We are living souls; we can be made quickened spirits.

There is a natural body and there is a spiritual body.  When finally, the quickened mortal body of the believer falls into the sleep of death, their human body of flesh and blood goes back to the ground.  The resurrection is illustrated by thinking of a seed which falls into the ground and dies, before it springs up a different body.  It is sown in dishonour and will be raised in glory.  Sown in weakness, raised in power.  Sown a natural body, raised a spiritual body. (1 Cor 15:35-50).

Every herb, tree, and grass yields its own seed, (Gen 1:11,12,29).  Each kind has its own body (1 Cor 15:38).  From Eve, the first woman, the seed of the woman has been passed on.  Some believe the woman’s seed is eternal.  I don’t want to expound on that here, but certainly we know that every little healthy baby girl has her set number of ova ‘seeds’ already in her body when she is born.

Once fertilised the seed or the ovum of the woman begins its growth over nine months.

When we evangelise, we also go forth sowing good seed through our witnessing.  Just as a natural seed is sown in the earth, so every Word of God that goes forth has its own power within itself to perform what it says it will accomplish. It has the resurrection power in it.  When acted upon by faith it is fertilised and brings with it resurrection power to the hearer who believes it.

God watches over God’s Word to perform it; to do what the Word says.  A seed, sown in a person’s mind, telling of God’s love, will bear the fruit of God’s love.  A healing promise will bring forth and yield ‘its own kind’. Genesis 1:26-28 commands the first couple to be fruitful, multiply, and replenish the earth.  Paul teaches that God is the one who supplies the giver with seed and then gives the increase, so that we will be able to replenish the earth (2 Cor 8 and 9.  Here are some other metaphors for your consideration.

Salt is metaphorical for friendship; it is also known as a symbol of destruction. Salt poured on the earth will render it useless; it will not be able to produce anything. Consider the natural eyes and the need for light to enter it in order for it to have vision.  ‘The entrance of thy Word gives light’ (Ps 119:30).

The church is the body of Christ; the church is a woman, the bride of Christ. Sarah, the wife of Abraham, typifies our mother. Abraham looked for a city that had foundations and she was walking beside him. The church as is the human body are used metaphorically. We are bones of his bone and flesh of his flesh (Gen 2 & Eph 5:30).

How is it that there is endless conflict about male and female in the kingdom of God?  There is no understanding with those who argue men are in charge of women.  This is looking at the church as if she were a physical identity rather than her possessing a spiritual identity.  This is called ‘in the Spirit’, and there is neither male nor female (Gal 3:28).[1] We are all children of God and inherit the promises.  Make sure Jesus is the plumbline you hold up when studying and teaching the Word; ‘In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your (study) path’

This subject is inexhaustible. There are as many examples to draw from as there are stars in the sky. Job is confronted by God the natural and material world all around him, accusing him of darkening counsel, by words without knowledge about the Creation (Job 40:15).

But ask now the beasts and they shall teach thee; or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee (Job 12:7-8).

Who teacheth us more than the beasts of the earth, and makes us wiser than the fowls of heaven?  (Job 35:11)

Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provides her meat in summer, and gathers her food in the harvest (Prov 6:6-8).

There will be three things which go well, yea, four are comely in going: A lion which is strongest among beasts, and turns not away for any; A greyhound; an he goat also; and a king, against whom there is no rising up.  (Prov 30:29-31). 

The visible can be perceived with the natural eye.  It is discernible, recognisable, and distinct.  It can be described, observed and is unmistakable.  It is apparent, evident, and open to view, being plain and obvious for all to see.  With the visible there are no secrets and it fills the eye.  The world of matter is our world of experience, of nature, of density, structure, and substance.  This is the source of spiritual revelation, to see, comprehend, and understand the spiritual through the things that are seen (11 Cor 4:18).

Reasoning often becomes dulled when the gospel’s plain truths are rejected.  Minds are seduced by doctrines that do not equate with the simplicity that is in the gospel.

The gospel is so simple that even a child could understand and so profound that we never will.    However, turning simple truths into lengthy doctrinal discourse benefits can be of little benefit.

Concrete evidence must be presented, a construction of ideas, a foundation laid down of things (principles) that the genuine inquirer can then grasp and interpret.  Intelligence comes into play; reason also, to penetrate and fathom the matter under consideration.  Where plain speech, daily examples, and descriptive object lessons are used, people respond positively.

The result is the uninitiated can understand about God and eternal realities.  Senses, geared to learning from the daily object lessons the Holy Spirit will give ‘through the things that are made’, are included.  We are told to “Look at the lilies; the birds of the air”; see how they testify to God’s faithfulness.

Jesus said to the unbelievers of his day, ‘you can read the sunsets and the colour of the sky, yet you cannot read other signs in the elements and creation and understand the state of the world around you’. 

Using the world around us teaches us about redemption, God’s love, the Kingdom of Heaven, and the coming judgment.  The heavens declare God’s handiwork and the redemptive plan is written in the stars.  The sun is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber to meet his bride: a daily declaration to the world to trust the promise, that Jesus will return for His bride.

This is turning water into wine.

Patricia Px 

[1] Reques teaching on any subjects mentioned here or search this website. rwvm.online

Street Work & Other Styles of Evangelism

1/  Friendship evangelism, 2/  Different styles of evangelism: street work 3/ Situational and circumstantial evangelism 4/ Essentials needed to establish the new believer.

The faithful witness: A catalyst for a miracle

Look around you. Have you considered how many opportunities to witness pass you by every day? They literally walk past you in the street. They’re sitting beside you in the bus shelter. They’re standing beside you in the queue at the supermarket.

I am speaking to those people who are free to make choices about their lives. You have a good life, and are not threatened by violence or harm. We are in a unique situation if we can choose our friends, make our own decisions, decide where we will go. Millions of people do not have these privileges. Yet, there are people who make the most of their present circumstances. Those that make a difference in their own lives and others seem to be willing to take a risk.

Certainly, there is an element of danger in risk-taking. For some they are willing to take a chance. That means relying on coincidence, on the unplanned, unknown outcome. Others decide on taking a risk and plan and consider their options. They might thing, it is better than the present circumstances they are in. They reason there just might be a possibility, by doing something different, things could change.

One thing’s sure. Where there is a need for a decision and if you waver between two opposing ideas, for as long as you waver between two minds, nothing will happen. Indecision id=s wavering between two points” .

“A double minded person is unstable in all their ways” .

As far as the Christian life is concerned indecisive behaviour reveals what could be either a lack of planning, fear, or as a result of fear, a lack of faith. In this stae of indecision very many opportunities are lost. Better to nurture the belief that you are in the centre of God’s will. Better to pray and believe you are being led by the Lord. Better to look at all the factors involved, write them down in two lists side by side, the for’s and the against’s, and make an informed decision, no matter how small, than to stand still.

In the bible, we can find examples where extraordinary things happen based on the smallest decision. One element is always there. The pivotal point upon which their decision hinges, is, they believe God is for them and not against them. They’re willing to risk it. We then discover what changed the events was not so much their decision, they could have made any number of decisions, but because of the course they chose to take, God intervened and turned the circumstances around. When we take this into account and look at the results of the decisions they made, we see there is an invisible world working on our behalf alongside our visible one.

Another way we can look at the working of God in the affairs of the world. When we consider the account given us in the four gospels we see that Jesus changed sides. He was not set in His ways. He was only on one side and to be on that side he may have had to swop sides to get there. Jesus was always on the side of the oppressed.

This shows that Jesus was moved by compassion. He showed empathy for those browbeaten by their task masters. Did He then step in and showed kindness and consideration for those that deserved it? No, not those that deserved it. Rather, he opposed and spoke out against bullies. He opposed and spoke out against injustice. He was aware of unequal balances and weights.  Jesus was always on the side of good.

Jesus shows his compassion for the Samaritan woman at the well, possibly ill-treated and rejected by five husbands as a result of the unjust divorce laws of that day. The awful shame she had to bear because of injustice  Jesus shows his intolerance for religious self -righteousness. He spoke the parable of the man beaten and left to die by the side of the road. It was not the self-righteous but The hated and despised Samaritan that helped the injured man.  Jesus showed righteous anger at the self-righteous religious leaders of that day. The woman taken in adultery and the awful demeaning way in which the religious men handled the situation. Jesus hated unrighteousness and religiosity. What does all this have to do with evangelism?

The key to effective evangelism is empathy.

Different approaches, different styles of evangelism, for every situation.

Friendship Evangelism. The faithful witness: a catalyst for a miracle.

Remember the little maid who spoke to the wife of Naaman the Leper?  (11 Kings 5:2-3).  Her circumstances were very difficult.  She had every right to be afraid for her own safety, and to keep quiet about her faith.  However, she spoke up and the results were, Naaman was healed!

What a beautiful picture the little maid presents of a faithful believer with concern for the lost.  All over the world, there are people like this brave young woman.  They find themselves placed in situations where they can be used as God’s mouthpiece.  They take advantage of being in situations and in places where the rich and famous gather, as well as in the market place.

Reader, where has God placed you?  Look around you. How many opportunities to be a witness of God’s majesty rush by you every day? Is it that you may never have really considered that God has chosen to place you where you live and work?  Your present circumstances are just the right colour for the new tapestry threads God wants to weave into your and your neighbour’s life.  You must believe you are in the centre of God’s will, first for your own life, and secondly, for those around you

The little maid was very courageous, as she was not in the best of company.  The Syrians were known for their vicious attacks on neighbouring nations.  They would go out in marauding parties and took special delight in stealing the women and young girls, carrying them away with them after attacking a village.  Sisera was like this (Jdg 6:4-30).  Interestingly, a woman, Jael overcame him as noted above.

We see that this little maid, (probably just a child) knew the God of Israel.  Her great faith and boldness is revealed through her words.  The girl told her mistress that there was a prophet in Israel that could heal her husband of his leprosy.

This is the working of miracles in action.  Her declaration set up a chain of events.  Once the little maid spoke these words, she put on notice the wife of Naaman and once the message was conveyed to another everyone in the chain leading to this miracle had to play his or her part. Not only Naaman, but  Naaman’s king, Israel’s Elisha the Prophet and even the Lord were on notice. The little maid had exercised her faith. She said in effect, Israel’s God can heal you. Today we point them to Jesus. Jesus can heal you.

Tract and Street Work

Street work is confronting people with the gospel.

Rather than friendship evangelism, tract work in the street requires a far, bolder approach.  Done in a determined way, to simply pass out tracts hand to hand to busy passers-by is the exact opposite of friendship evangelism, which relies upon nurturing a genuine long-term relationship. You simply carry printed literature.  It may be that you may not even be able to have the opportunity to engage in conversation.  It may be confrontational.

Along the way you distribute the printed message wherever you go, even if it is only a tract left as you leave public premises, or wherever you happen to be.  Talking to people, confronting and comforting them with the claims of Christ, wherever you go, brings results.  However, you may not be the one who reaps, then again, you may. I’ve read people who sneer at this. They have never done it or are not evangelists. I do it regularly. People are touched that you care. Again, empathy is the key.

When I have the time I stop and speak to people standing around in the street, I simply strike up a conversation with them.  Recently, I was walking toward a man leaning against a fence.  I asked him if he’d been waiting long?  From there we chatted about small things, and life in general.  As I was leaving, I said, I’m a Christian, is there anything you’d like me to pray for?  Yes, he said, and told me his mother was sick, and as well, he needed a job.  I prayed there and then for him and suggested to him to begin to pray for himself on retiring each night.  I assured him God answers prayer and I said I’d continue to pray which I do.

You might ask people as you hand them a tract: Hey, do you believe Jesus is alive? Do you know God loves you? Excuse me, got a minute?  Have you ever given your life to Jesus? Hey, hello there, have you heard the Good News?  Do you have the gift of eternal life?

They might get into conversation with you – or they may not.  But generally I find they do.  No one is ever rude.  People readily accept my approach.  I make it fun and they are responsive.

Street work

Carried out properly, street evangelism is productive particularly where there is a local street church.  For two years I worked with such a church in Hindley Street, Adelaide. It was very fruitful because there was somewhere to invite street kids to come and hear the gospel message, to get off the street and have a meal before service Sunday night.

You can build a church right there in a shopfront on the street, or back of a building. You can take them to a coffee shop close by. You can invite them to meet up at another time to chat and but them a coffee. Save your tithes and invest directly into lives. Do the work of the Evangelist. Be in season out of season. I enjoy street work.

What do I mean by street work?  Far too much has been made of the supposed difficulties of street evangelism.  How many people think that street evangelism won’t work in their town, city or country?  Very many!  They are convinced it is a separate specialised work in which only the few ‘select’ bold ones can participate?  Allow me to encourage you.  You can be successful in all aspects of evangelism. All you need is humility to under-stand people and empathy. Is that too hard?

However, there is a right way and a wrong way of doing it.  How often do we see a group of Christians leaving the safety and secularism of their churches to go into the streets to ‘ambush’ poor unsuspecting locals?  I remember I was invited to a large church in Sydney. I was there by invitation of the Pastor.

A group of us travelled there to start a work with the deaf there in the local church.  It was situated in notorious King’s Cross.  While there I was invited to share with the street evangelists before they went out that Saturday night in the local area to witness.

I challenged them that if they were going to do this kind of work that they needed to be willing to give their shoes if they met someone who had none.  Street work, when you get right down to it, is where the one-night-intown revellers visit, but where the homeless live. Has it occurred to you Jesus said he was homeless. He had nowhere to lay his head. He was rejected by his family, his own people, and his friends on occassions.

Now if we do street work in a heartless fashion, here today and gone tomorrow, not really caring, but somehow, getting a good religious feeling by doing our duty of ‘preaching the gospel’ to the world, we will not only fail, but street people in particular become hardened to the gospel.

This kind of work done in this kind of spirit of non compassion is doomed to fail.  On a religious high and having fulfilled their duty, the Christians have preached a false gospel: be warmed and be satisfied but don’t bother me.  They then run for cover, not really feeling for the plight of the people they approach.  If we are honest, many of us who have attempted this style of evangelism are guilty of working religiously, dare I say, self-righteously in this fashion at some stage.

Having said that, given the chance of engaging in discussion with someone in the street, you then quickly have to find the common ground, and start from there.  I am always prepared to meet them back at the same place and have a coffee with them and a further chat.  Street work, done effectively, is the same as any other friendship-style evangelism.  We can progress gradually from natural to spiritual in our communication with people.

For example, consider any town, village, or city in your nation.  There is always a local hangout, a street or a shop or a doorway where young people or kids gather.  It may be a pub where they regularly play pool, or kids sit on a footpath.  Often they are lonely and bored, just marking time.

Anyone willing to put in the time can go there regularly and make contact with these kinds of people, building bridges of friendship.  If we were willing to work regularly in one small area, for instance, a local pub, outside a take-away, within the vicinity of a popular meeting place, say a coffee shop and the streets surrounding them, gradually getting to know the workers and owners and those who frequent their premises, we would have success.  I know because I have done it.

By going there regularly and chatting, we will gradually build up contacts that God can begin to work with them through us.  The main strategy is to form friendships.  It is wise to let them know straight away you are a Christian, but then, perhaps take a low profile, displaying a genuine interest, finally sharing of yourself with them in their trials and yours.  This is being a friend.

Make yourself available to meet those who you contact.  Arrange a time and meet them for a coffee and bun.  Include them in social gatherings that you are involved in.  In other words, build a relationship, but naturally, not rushing or striving to make anything happen.  By now, you have realised that to be effective in this area, as in all other areas of evangelism, a long-term commitment is needed.  This cannot be a hit and miss affair.

There is a saying that is worthy of mention here, ‘feeding fish bite’.  When people will socialise with you, they are ready for the gospel, but in God’s timing, not yours.  There is often a culture shock suffered by ‘straight’ Christians when they first enter street work, but if we do not allow this to act as a deterrent, we will adjust to the culture.

I assure you the culture shock is just as great for the unbeliever and new convert when they first come to church and mix with the ‘straights’.  The church leader who sits in a swivel chair all day behind a large polished desk, the church members who attend church on the weekend, comfortable in the small narrow world of church attendance and fellowship, are extremely limited in reaching out to the outside ‘real’ world around them.

Nevertheless, this is the world Jesus told us to go into, to preach and to teach the good news; ‘Go into all the world’.  Were Jesus here now, you would find him there, mixing with the down and outs, the hard up, the out of work, the fallen out of favour, the women and men of the night, the strippers, the bouncers and bikies, pub-goers and bar workers, and drink waiters and those who wait tables, the street kids and druggies. The cons and the criminals.

Jesus would challenge the ‘straights’ in the church.  A gospel of taboos has no place anywhere, but, especially in the streets.  People have a need to feel accepted, how and where they are.  You will then find they are also ready to accept you how and where you are.  It is a two-way street

You will also find, the later the night the lonelier the people.  It is usually best to do this work with a partner; someone you trust and who thinks the same way you do.  Learn to work together allowing one another singularly the freedom to talk with people you meet.  Don’t both together verbally gang up on people; rather one on one is best.  Be ready to withdraw your presence should the occasion arise, allowing your partner to gain closer communication and friendship, waiting for him or her nearby.

Do not get hung-up on how many people you talk to.  Remember, this is God’s work from start to finish.  A night spent talking with just one person could profit more for God than a hundred tracts given out and not one personal contact made.

Do you find talking to the unsaved difficult?  If people do not talk about God, are you left wondering what to talk about?  I suggest that, if this is you, your world has become too narrow.  Is it possible you are not involved in any works of kindness? James admonishes us that ‘faith without accompanying works is dead’.  Although not of it, we are in this world, and we need to keep up with current fads and happenings to be effective.  We also might acquaint ourselves with the jargon of the street and the drug culture, particularly, if we are working among youth, but its not important. Any age can work with youth. Travelling the world, teaching evangelism, I always inquired if there was someone who wanted to work with me as my partner in the street.

The worker’s approach

Street work requires great wisdom and understanding.  When first approach or introduction is made, the person you talk to will query motives.  It takes time to show, by your words and actions, that your motives are pure.  Be on your guard in this respect.  As we faithfully go, God will bring us in contact with ‘feeding fish’.  A great sense of satisfaction can be derived from this type of work.

In street evangelism, you will often run into large groups of revellers or several kids all together, hanging around, wanting some action.  When I run into them on the street I will walk up and say aloud, ‘you are all under arrest’.  That gets their attention.  Then I assure them I am not a police officer, but an evangelist and I am about to handcuff them to God’s love by telling them about God’s forgiveness.  You see them visibly relax, and then get ready to give some quick smart answers.  I have never had them ignore me yet. They all talk together wanting to get their questions or back talk in.

Arrange to meet them again, next week.  They may or may not turn up.  If they do, gather the cluster group around you through friendship, pray much behind the scenes and do not be in opposition to their leader.  Try to win her or him.  Wherever a group like this gathers, and you start talking to them as a group, as the fire heats up, the viper will often come out of the heat to strike.

Remember what happened to Paul, ‘And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand’ (Acts 28:3).  The dissenter, the spokesperson for the crowd, is the one you have to win.  However, remember, the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but they are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.

Now, it is no good saying, ‘isn’t the weather awful’, and expecting the conversation to open into a more serious discussion.  It is better to develop a few opening lines that can be used anywhere and at any time and remember that the opening lines need to be suited to the environment or the circumstances at hand.

Take Jesus and the woman at the well.  His opening line was, ‘give me a drink’.  It would have been of no profit him approaching her by saying, “Who do you think will win the elections this year?”  No!  The obvious was, ‘let’s talk about water’, since that was, for both of them, the business at hand.  Then at the opportune moment Jesus turned the natural “give me a drink” to the spiritual application of the same.  If you happen to pass a drive-in grog shop you might go to the counter and ask them “do you sell living water?”  I have had some great conversations that way.

Is it sometimes embarrassing for people to be confronted with the gospel?  Yes, it can put them on the spot.  However, by introducing the subject through the things that are made, then take them to the understanding to see the invisible things, the heavenly realities, arrests their attention.  It is the way Jesus did it.

In addition, should the hearer get embarrassed, well, I try to make them comfortable, by changing the subject, relaxing them.  As shared previously, even if it is only a tract left behind, you have taken them one step further in coming into the realm of the knowledge of the love of God for them which, after all is said and done, is the kernel of the gospel. A tract was my first step in finally accepting Jesus. I was told ‘keep reading it’. I obeyed. Remarkable that.

So get busy, start sharing and you will pick up the trail of other wise ones who have been there before you.

Evangelism’s central themeGod’s love, displayed in Jesus, and only Jesus, is the central theme of the gospel of grace.  Grace cannot be stressed enough.  Your denominational zeal will not win people to Christ.  Your persistence in correcting people’s attitudes towards God and the Church will turn them off. Those anti-feelings they may display toward God and the church are real to them.  If they have suffered at the hands of the church why attempt to deny them their experience?’ When they finally give you the opportunity to do so, share Jesus, not your denominational stance or your pet doctrine.

Situational and circumstantial Evangelism

The workplace

In the workplace, the witnesser will see the same people every day.  Chances are they will spend more time with them in work place than with their family or partner.  A strategy can be worked out in an attempt to win workmates to Jesus.  In every group situation, you need to consider who the key person among them is.  People move in cluster groups and if you win the leader of that cluster then you win the whole group.  Usually the prominent person in the cluster is not necessarily the loudest person, or the most talkative, nor necessarily the one who actively opposes you.

In my experience, more often than not, it is the strong, silent, passively aggressive type who says little yet observes closely all that is going on so that they can stay in charge of the group.  Very often, the one doing all the talking will look to this person as their authority figure, for his or her approval.  As the leader, they may sense their control and leadership in the group is under threat, which it is, of course!  Jesus wants control of hearts and minds.  Often, these behind-the-scene folk make the bullets, and the loud mouths in the group fire them.

Strategy is needed in the work place or where you encounter people on a daily basis. Do not jump in too quickly. Wisdom tells us to go in prepared, but not to be hasty. You do not have to say much to the people you work alongside.  You simply wait, in much prayer.  The farmer waits for the precious fruit to ripen.

When the time is right, and the situation arises, let it be known you are a believer. In some cases, where I know the person is hungry for God, I will even hold back from talking.  This makes them all the more inquisitive.  I especially avoid grouping together with other believers due to cliques forming thus placing the inquirer on the outside. I’ve noticed Christians love forming cliques. They have not yet found their identity in Jesus.

Cliques are caught-up with their own social and often exclusive agendas.  It is well nigh impossible for the new believer to break into this kind of group.  My advice is don’t get caught up into cliques.  Be on the lookout for the stranger and the loner, and join them. When attending church I prefer to sit alone and make myself available this way for ‘lost coins’ in the house.

If you are a willing witnesser, you will become aware of plans being aborted, of strangers attempting to embarrass you, or get you on the defensive, or people you are reaching out to getting distracted.  Resist taking the bait.  In fishing terms, you might say it is like playing out the line further.  In biblical terms, the wittnesser must not strive but be patient, ready to teach.

Circumstantial Evangelism: Taking Every Opportunity

 

You might meet someone as I did recently.  He had a friend who was in a coma due to a violent assault. You can assure that person that you will pray on their behalf.  I often carry tissues and a small vial of oil; I explain that I will pray now for that person, I anoint the tissue with oil and pray for the person who has the need.  I suggest to the person I’m speaking to that they put the tissue under the needy person’s mattress.  It becomes a point of contact for their faith after you depart from them.  Perhaps they are even willing for you to accompany them to the hospital, visit the victim, and pray for their recovery.

My sister Joy and I did this witnessing to a distraught parent.  A wonderful healing ensued.  A man named Jim came to her home to clean the swimming pool.  We witnessed to him.  He said his little girl was in hospital and could not digest food; the doctors had no answer.  We asked if he would like us to visit and pray.   The result was she began to keep down food, and was soon released from hospital.  Do not miss an opportunity for God.

Circumstantial evangelism requires great faith and boldness because it is ‘on the spot’, the ‘working of miracles’ kind of ministry.  It is getting far enough out on a limb to put your faith where your mouth is.  It is putting your faith on the line.  This is often the reason, the dividing line, why many do not look for opportunities to witness.  They do not have the faith to believe God will act on their words.  Yet, the Scripture promises that God will perform the counsel of His messenger.

Recently I was sin a shop having a closing down sale. I asked the woman if she had a job to go to. She said no. I asked do you mind if I spray for you to find one? She was ok with that. I prayed with my eye open no hint of religiosity- God’s ok with that – (smile). She thanked me profusely and was genuinely touched that I cared.

For then you shall have your delight in the Almighty, and shall lift up your face to God.  You shall make your prayer to God, and God shall hear you, and you shall pay your vows.  You shall also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto you: and the light shall shine upon thy ways.  When people are cast down, then you shall say, There is a lifting up; and God shall save the humble person.  The innocent shall be delivered by the pureness of your hands. Job 22:26-30  

Isaiah 44:26 assures us ‘God shall confirm the word of the servant of God; and perform the counsel of the messengers of God’

God is willing to give us counsel and instruction in every situation.[1]  Ruling in the circumstances does not mean dominating those in your presence.  It is understanding that you are in charge of every circumstance and turning it around to the glory of God.  Remarkable miracles begin to happen in this type of evangelism.

Paul’s ministry on the Isle of Malta was purely circumstantial.  He found himself on the Isle of Malta and through the circumstances he found himself in, he started a mini-revival just because he immediately took stock of the situation.  ‘And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him’.  The evangelist can go forth in the full assurance, The Lord working with them with signs and wonders following. (Acts 14:3. Acts 28:8)

Wisdom needed to establish the new convert

The Worker’s Wisdom and Understanding

On one occasion, when Jesus was teaching his disciples, he instructed them, ”Be wise as serpents, harmless as doves”.

Here is a lesson about snakes.  The serpent has in the roof of its mouth what is known as Jacobson’s organ.  This is capable of detecting minute quantities of various chemical substances when they are picked up externally on the delicate double tipped tongue.  Once detected, it is then thrust into the organ for analysis.  This organ is important, primarily, in trailing and recognition of prey.  It is also used in the detection of enemies, in trailing other snakes of the same species and lastly, in courtship.  Another remarkable thing about the serpent is that it leaves scent trails, which grow stronger as more of them increasingly follow it, seeking a place of hibernation for the winter months (Encyclopaedia Britannica 16, page 564).

This example concerning wisdom from the natural world around us shouts loud and clear.  Whenever you talk to someone, pick up the trail left by others before you.  In this way be as wise as the serpent.  Does the person you are talking to know anything about God?  Are they angry about the church or someone in it?  Maybe they are angry with God?  Has someone been witnessing before you arrived?  Do they have a relative who is a Christian. How much Scripture knowledge do they have?  Maybe a family member shared the gospel with them before you came along.

We do not have to reinvent the wheel.  Pick up where the last worker left off.  Pick up the trail on information you perceive or are plainly told.  It may be on the last negative event that took place concerning their experience of Christianity.  This is one way of considering what Jesus meant when he said we are to be ‘wise as serpents’.

Witnessing is serious fun.  Yes, it can sometimes disturb the person we are reaching out to on behalf of Jesus.  Nevertheless, disturb them we must, to wake them out of their sleep.  Remember Paul on the isle of Patmos; turning up the heat brings serpents out in the open, be it the pit or the refuge they were hibernating in.

[1] Isaiah 45:11 Psa 73:24 Psa 106:13; 107:11; Prov 1:25 8:14 19:20; 19:21; Isa 11:2; 16:3; 28:19.

Remember … the Anointing is for the Goers …

Jesus said: “Go into all the world and lo I am with you.”

Rich Blessings

Patricia Px

End

 

Faith’s Evidence

Lessons on the Journey of Faith: Faith’s Evidences

The Word of God is not bound

2 Kings 5:13 And his servants came near, and spake unto Naaman, and said, My Father, if the prophet had bid thee so some great thing, would you not have done it?  How much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash and be clean?

Returning now to our main character, Naaman.  His religious beliefs initially stumbled him, preventing him from being saved from his awful disease ( called leprosy).  However, the Word of God is neither bound nor limited by religiosity and unbelief.  ‘Even if our faith fails, God never fails’.

Naaman’s servant was intuitive however; he had perception. He could look beyond the natural and see what was not obvious. He recognised the God of Israel at work and advised his master.  God is no respecter of persons. You dont have to be a believer to recognise the works of God, but in so doing, you will be changed into a believer, if your heart is hungry for truth.

Today, as then, God has witnesses everywhere.  Naaman’s wise servant proved to be able to discern wisdom when he heard it.  Naaman’s reasoning sounded good; it allowed him  to have enough insight into how, if people are willing to do some great thing for God, they may be recognised by God. Yet when it comes to the insignificant action that his faith required to bring about his healing (salvation), he missed it.

Faith requires action. Active faith activates God. You cant go wrong.  Faith in God’s Word acts like a magnet, drawing from it God’s own ability, encapsulated within it.  Just as fear draws negativity, and no results except more fear, so faith draws God’s Spirit, and the working of the Holy Spirit materialises. Submit to God and resist any accusations.

The Word of God has its own witnesses

In the mouth of two or three witnesses, every word will be established (Matt 18: 16).

The Scripture assure us, that ‘in the mouth of two or three witnesses every Word will be established’ (Matt 18:16).  Whenever we go out doing the work of evangelism, sharing with whoever we meet, we can be assured that God will ratify every Word in keeping with the Gospel, that we have spoken, following it up with another one or two witnesses to confirm it to the hearer’s heart.  This encourages us to do the work of an evangelist.

Faith Is Obedience To God’s Word

Naaman followed the confirming witness of his servant.  The servant encouraged Naaman to forsake his religious pride and obey; he encouraged him to hope ‘hope thou in God’.  Do you get it? Do something , do anything. I know that I travelled into many countries without money in my own pocket. I knew to start it happening  -I had to do something. I would phone about the cost of the ticket. I would deposit the ticket. I would if I could at that stage, book the ticket. I might inquire into costs and start adding up how much I had to start praying for. Do something.

Then went he down and dipped himself seven times in Jordan according to the saying of the man of God and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child and he was clean (2 Kings 5:14).

Believers are ‘ministers of hope and of reconciliation’.  True faith prompts action – obedience; assurance is the outcome of this.  The desired action, coupled with faith, will bring healing to the spirit, soul, and body of the inquirer, according to the saying of the man or woman of God.

Faith rests on the Word of God

‘Yea, the Almighty shall be thy defence and thou shalt have plenty of silver.  For then thou shalt have thy delight in the Almighty, and shalt lift up thy face unto God.  Thou shalt make thy prayer unto him, and he shall hear thee, and thou shalt pay thy vows.  Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee: and the light shall shine upon thy ways.  When men are cast down, then thou shalt say, There is lifting up; and he shall save the humble person.  He shall deliver the island of the innocent: and it is delivered by they pureness of thine hands’ (Job 22:25-30).

Sarah’s our example of ‘hearing by faith’.

Faith Speaks

The above verses in Job give us assurance that our prayer to God is heard.  As priests unto God we can come into the most holy place and pray.  As kings we decree and it will be established unto us.  As prophets we testify of Jesus.  When we are dealing with seekers whatever the need, be it salvation, healing, deliverance, comfort, and strength, we must learn to speak as the oracle of God.

Mary is our example of speaking by faith.

Our biggest need is to listen to the Holy Spirit within, and to give wise counsel out of the Word of God.  God will honour our word.  We are the ones to speak prophetically saying, ‘there is a lifting up’.  We are promised here that God will perform our counsel.  Listen to the prophet Isaiah comforting Israel when they were taken into captivity and deep in remorse and grief.

Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself; That frustrateth the tokens of the liars, and maketh diviners mad; that turneth wise men backward, and maketh their knowledge foolish; That confirmeth the word of his servant, and performeth the counsel of his messengers; that saith to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be inhabited; and to the cities of Judah, Ye shall be built, and I will raise up the decayed places thereof: That saith to the deep, Be dry, and I will dry up thy rivers: That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid (Isa 44:24-28).

Speak, decree new things into people’s lives, bring to them word and deeds of comfort and encouragement.  The Lord will confirm what we say and will perform our counsel.

The woman who housed the prophet Elig=jah recognised this: she said ” I perceive you are a prophet”.

Mary said at the wedding in Galilee “what ever he says to you do it”.

Words kill, words give life; thyre either poison or fruit.  (Prov 18:21) (The Message.  Eugene H Peterson)

To be an effective servant in the work of the Lord, we ourselves have to first come into the assurance of our authority in Jesus name, live the life, activate our faith in God and God’s Word, and have assurance and confidence, not in ourselves, but in God.

THE END

Sharing Your Faith

Hey there,

I am delighted that we are together and about to share my teaching on evangelism.

You and I are going to work together to improve our knowledge about how a person is born again. Learn how we continue to grow and mature so that we become dynamic witnesses of the grace of God. Such personal knowledge is essential for the task of winning people to the Lord so our goal is to ‘grow up into all things in Christ’.

Before we begin, I want to tell you a little of my early experiences and adventures in evangelism. I started out with all the best intentions in the world to share the good news.

For example, I wanted a workmate, with whom I was sharing about Jesus, to know God as her Provider. So, I secretly put money into her purse because she had expressed a financial need. It did not work.

Whilst working in a Christian-based private hospital I witnessed to hundreds of people taking every opportunity to pray for the sick. I saw some wonderful things happen, but no one was converted to Christ.

When I read that the early church gave away all their possessions, I did likewise. This did not have any effect either.

I wrestled in my mind with the Scriptures. I continually asked Joy, my more knowledgeable sister who had led me to Jesus, such questions as, “Does everyone have to be born again”, and “What about all the people who never hear about Jesus”?

I had so many questions. How does God save people? What is the process of salvation and how does it actually take place? How many different ways are there to be consistent in winning souls for Christ? How do you disciple people? How do new Christians learn to follow the leading of the Spirit of God?

None of the answers I received satisfied me or helped me win souls. But I was determined to find out the answers.

I was also puzzled and disappointed. I had expected to see Christians on fire for Jesus as I was, gossiping the gospel and witnessing. But everyone seemed just so comfortable in their faith and not active in evangelism. Why was that?

Evangelism requires sensitivity to people and to the situation at hand. In the heart of every evangelist is the desire to be as Jesus was. Jesus moved so graciously amongst people. The forgotten and neglected people, the ‘fringe people’, the ‘disregarded’ and ‘disenfranchised’, as well as the ‘rich and famous’, even the ‘bold and the beautiful’.

Doing the work of evangelism has taken me into the streets, and into the homes of millionaires and those stricken with poverty. It has led to many vigils with the dying, the bereaved, the forgotten and the bruised. It has also meant diligently visiting people in their homes, taking them through the scriptures, leading them to Christ, and teaching them about the assurance of faith.   It is satisfying to meet them some years later and they are still going on with the Lord.

All of these things show that personal evangelism requires faith and faith works through love. Personal evangelism leads to caring about people, becoming part of their lives.

Wonderfully, when you do the work of evangelism you will live a full and satisfying life. You will become a servant of humanity for Jesus Christ. Through that, you will experience the love, the boldness, the fearlessness, the confidence such a lifestyle delivers.

Therefore, be very courageous, be strong, and SPEAK!

Learn how the Holy Spirit and the word work through you.

Love in Jesus

Patricia  – Px

 

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This teaching manual is dedicated to my son, Mark.  Mark and I went everywhere together in those early years of evangelism. When I visited and prayed for people, he was there, as a young lad, praying alongside me. He gave his bed up many times to lost people who found their way to our door. He cooperated with me in opening our home to the homeless who we brought home from off the street. Throughout the years, hundreds of different people sat at our table around a meal, and heard the message of Christ through the simple act of hospitality.  I want to honour Mark and thank him publicly for his sharing with me in the work. 

 

I also salute my sister, Joy Hunter, and her sons, Peter, Mark, and Scott, all of whom made it possible for me to be welcomed into the kingdom.

 

A couple that showed unreserved love were Betty and Les Beech. And yet another woman is Joy Sopronick. Joy called into Hong Kong and looked me up and told me about Jesus.  I was working there as a showgirl at the Miramar Hotel: Kingsland and Kings Garden Night Clubs and sharing an apartment with Michelle, one of Australia’s les Girls. But that’s another story for another time! 

The Gracious Gospel

Divine Forgiveness

Old Testament sacrifices had no power to deliver

It is difficult to understand the Law of God that required the shed blood of an animal to put away sin. In the Old Testament we learn that this was the Law given to Moses. ‘Without the shedding of blood there is no putting sin away’. 

Nevertheless, for thousands of years, the Israelite people carried out this requirement of the law. The problem with this was, although it satisfied the law of sin and death, it did not satisfy God. God had no pleasure in the death of animals year after year. 

Another problem was this. The laws of Moses were weak, because the daily shedding of the blood of animals did not have the power to take away sin’s power. of shame and guilt  We understand from the New Testament that sin’s power starts in a person’s mind. From there we know that the actions are finally carried out through the members of our body, with the five senses involved.

It’s reasonable then, when you think about it, that killing an animal, for its blood, although it fulfilled the law, did not have the ability to affect the way a person thought or what they did. We can then arrive from that analysis that if it had the ability to do so, first, there would be no need to continually offer them. Second, there would have been no need for Jesus’ death.  

For then would they not have ceased to be offered?  Because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 

Therefore, the sacrificial offerings of the blood of animals did not give pleasure to God or the people of Israel. Another problem was that every time an animal was sacrificed, it brought up the memory of the sin committed. Therefore, it made people feel guilty. Once again, there was no pleasure in this offering for the people or for God.

But in those sacrifices, there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.  For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

God’s pleasure is for people to be free from condemnation. You cannot  love God and feel guilty. The need for people is to be free from the power of sin and the memory of it, so as not to continually offend God.  

Under the old covenant, the sacrificial laws required certain things.  The High Priest once a year, on the Day of Atonement, sprinkled the mercy seat, in the most holy place, with the blood of sacrifice.  Forgiveness on this one day was granted to the people on an annual basis until the time came when these sacrifices could finally be done away with. However, the daily sacrifices they made never cleansed their conscience from dead works.  

And every priest stands daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.  Heb 10: 2-25.

When we instruct people about God forgiving us our sin, we need to help them understand what we mean by the good news of God forgiving us all our sins. We may find people have accepted the Lord as their saviour, but they still feel guilty about their past. There may be restitution needed. Certainly, this should be discussed with them. But everything being equal, God does not want them to feel guilty. It is the evangelist’s job in discipling new converts to teach them the freeing message of the gracious Gospel.  

For some it is distasteful that the sacrifice of blood is the core of the Christian message. I agree. It is distasteful. However, when we remember that the taking of life is the ultimate sin and the giving of life is the ultimate sacrifice. 

The Law of Moses says, ‘a life for a life’. This is the law of sin and death. It was this law, that Jesus’ dying on the cross fulfilled. This was the plan of God from the beginning. Jesus came in the fullness of time to execute that plan. 

Grace, in all its beauty and fullness, was escorted in by Jesus coming to this earth and dying to carry out its entrance. Once Jesus’ blood was poured out, the old law of animal sacrifice stopped. A new agreement, a covenant, could be escorted in  and approved. Jesus cried out on the cross, “It is finished.” It was not a cry of defeat, but of victory!  Jesus was saying, in effect, it is carried out. 

Under the new covenant it is a pleasure for the believer to please God. The reason is because God’s laws are written on our mind.  We have the mind of Christ. This is the power of the Gospel. God does not remember our sins. That is the power of the blood of Jesus. ‘The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin’. The blood of Jesus cleanses our conscience from guilt’, The blood of Jesus cleanses our conscience from dead works to serve the living God’. We are no longer in debt. Instead, we are in credit! That is the power of divine love and that is the Good News.  

This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.  Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin (Heb 10:18).

Now, the blood of Jesus has covered our sins, and we have peace and friendship with God. Now we have boldness to come to God. Now we can pray to God, make our requests known to God. Now we have peace with God. This peach is through our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Under the old covenant, they had a High Priest to represent them before God. However, the Jewish High Priest was also a sinner. He had position, but he was also powerless, the same as the people. He also felt guilty, and more so, because he had to make representation before God on behalf of the people.  

Now, we have a High Priest over God’s house that gave his life for us. Our High Priest is Jesus. Jesus never sinned. Jesus prays for us. He brings us to God. Our mind need not condemn us. Jesus was a person like us. He lived here on earth He knows the struggles of temptation. He was tempted too. He knows we will fall. 

The difference between us and Jesus is that, he was tempted yet never gave into sin.  Now, there is a human being, yet without sin, sitting on the right hand of God. This is the reason we do not need any other mediator. This is the reason we do not need saints to pray to. We do not ask the mother of Jesus to pray for us or ask her to speak to her son to pray for us. 

Jesus is the first of many more to come. That is us. We are they. We are therefore encouraged in the Scriptures to have confidence and boldness in the shed blood of Jesus. It was shed on our behalf.  

Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works (Heb 19:10-22).

The shed blood of animals had no power to cleanse the conscience from guilt. Christ was offered, once, to bear the sins of many.  

How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?  Heb 9:14

The second covenant is made with Christ’s blood, a better sacrifice than animals. Jesus, our high priest carried his own blood into the heavens and sprinkled it there in the heavenly tabernacle. Its pattern had been replicated on earth (Heb 9:18-28).  

Divine forgiveness: God’s desire – God’s gift

Old Testament sacrifices.

 ‘The life of all flesh is in the blood.’ 

Why blood?  Because it is blood that carries the life of the animal or person in it. Jesus knew his mission was to die for the sins of the people, for you and me. Did he want to die that day as he looked at his mother crying for him? As people spat upon him? No.  Did God enjoy Jesus’ death? No. Nevertheless, Jesus gave His life (blood) as a ransom. 

Jesus’ blood provides us with at-one-ment with God. No greater love has a person than this; that a person lay down their life for their friends. Humanity recognises this. Honour is given to people who lose their life to save another. It is called the supreme sacrifice. Those left behind mourn the loss and the waste it is to them. However, it is not viewed as a waste to the person that was saved from death.  

God supplied a better sacrifice. Furthermore, before Jesus came, the only people who benefitted from the sacrificial offerings were those in the Abrahamic covenant, the nation of Israel.  

However, now, the ‘gospel’ of Jesus – his sacrifice was for the sins of the entire world, not just Israel. The Jews Messiah was present in the covenant with Abraham, the law of Moses and prefigured in the sacrificial service.

The early Israelites  understood these mysteries and the work of faith. They were not in the dark but were knowledgeable worshippers. It was not a mystery religion. God’s message has always been simple and clear. The people of Israel found grace in the wilderness. They knew about grace and understood it. 

Next we will learn about the Assurances of the Gracious Gospel

Patricia