Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Radical obedience, Part VIII

4:40 p.m. Today's project is to find ways to start the conversation that could lead to an unsaved friend, acquaintance, colleague, family member or even a total stranger to commit their life to Jesus Christ. Today I want to focus on speaking to someone you may have just met.

Before we acknowledge that every word, sentence, phrase or tone of voice is of eternal significance, remember the promise Jesus made to His disciples before His departure, John 14:26: "The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you."

Notice that Jesus said the Holy Spirit will teach you all things--like the deepest needs of the person you are sharing with. But take note of the second part of the verse: the Holy Spirit will bring to remembrance all things Jesus said to them. The Holy Spirit can't "bring to remembrance" something you never heard or read, i.e., verses and concepts from the Bible! He certainly can bring new information to your mind any time, any place, and that could include scripture. What I am getting at is that you as a faithful witness for Christ need a storehouse of scripture at the ready for the appropriate spot in the conversation. If you are a new believer, you will have the basics; if you have walked with the Lord many years, you should have a real treasure trove of verses stored for the Holy Spirit to bring forward!

Starting the conversation is definitely the hardest part, I find, of witnessing, especially to strangers! After the Lord has led you to the right person to speak with (it's best if they are by themselves; but, if you both are parents watching your kids play, you can pray for an extended time of peace!) You might begin with a somewhat neutral comment on the location, event or activity you are both engaged in. "Love the sunny days we've been having!" "I think this line is moving, finally!" "I've always liked watching the planes come in while I wait for my flight." "That'a cool laptop!" "Have you read anything else by that author?" You get the picture. Offer help, a compliment, be friendly. Maintain an open, calm and pleasant expression that actually draws others to you. I don't mean smiling for no reason, but look like the person you are--a joyful believer in Christ!

If no actual conversation develops, continue to be positive in the silence. But don't give up! Pray! I've had strangers just start talking to me! That's what we call a "divine appointment." God is bringing you a person who needs what you have, who sees something they desperately want--true joy and peace. Enjoy your conversation, have fun, but don't forget your purpose, His purpose. You might gently steer the conversation with a remark like, "Have you noticed...?" about something currently happening. When they express a concern, or even fear, you then have an opening to say, "You know, I used to feel that way before I became a Christian." Now you can explain what happened to change your thinking, gave you hope and confidence instead of dread, or whatever the other person is expressing. Because you have listened to them with genuine concern, you have earned the right to be heard yourself. You may insert some of your testimony, because we all have one. Moving from death to life is no small event! Some of us were people no one ever thought would get saved and almost didn't bother witnessing to. We may have looked too "down-and-out," or even looked like we "had it all together!" But EVERYONE needs Jesus! They just don't know it, and that's why we share our faith.

Just don't forget to ask them, after they give a thoughtful, positive, or even at least a neutral response to your sharing, if they have any questions; then, if they would like to pray to accept Christ. Explain that Jesus came to give them life in heaven with Him forever, and a life of peace and hope today. Tell them that when they repent, they can be forgiven of every sin they've ever committed, in a clear and confident voice. After all, you are telling pure, unadulterated truth!! They may choose to accept Christ then and there, or, they may not. Acts 2:47 says, "The Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved." God knows when the person will be ready. He is the one who will send unrelenting conviction by the Holy Spirit, and will draw them to Himself. But you have the joy of having been obedient!

Jesus said, in John 12:32, predicting His death on the cross, "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself." Jesus' death and resurrection has drawn multiplied millions of sinners to Him for salvation. Let's "lift" His name up, in witness, to all we come into contact with!

Part IX: Under the microscope--your daily testimony.

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