Wednesday, May 11, 2011

YOUR WEDNESDAY MORNING DEVOTION!

DEB BURTON, Teacher
EVANGELISM....IS FOR EVERYBODY!!



NATURAL AS BREATHING OUT
When you are enjoying your life in Christ,and we should be, evangelism should be automatic, like sharing any good news... Look at these scriptures: "You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore." Psalm 16:11; "... the joy of the LORD is your strength." Neh. 8:10; and "Be joyful always", 1 Thes. 5:16....


If you aren't rejoicing, you need to ask 'why?' of yourself, your church, and of God. Just for a start, think of the forgiveness we receive through honest confession, and the changes made by real repentance - the kind that asks God to show you how you need to change the way you think - after which our actions will automatically adjust! Think of the healing we receive for hurts done by others, as with God's help to understand their weakness, and the interference of Satan, we can forgive them, and get them out of our heads! Think of how God loves us, and helps us resist the devil's lies, who would, if he could, make us feel guilty for breathing! "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Romans 12:2

THE FEAR FACTOR

People are afraid because they perceive evangelism in certain ways, and they know that when they do it those ways, it doesn’t work, that it actually puts people off.


They think they have to accost strangers with a stumbling formula: “Are you saved?”, or: “Do you know you are going to hell?” Or they surreptitiously leave tracts in obvious places. They think of the kind of evangelism where they have to go standing on a street corner, yelling death and doom to an embarrassed or indifferent populace.


They hear stories of gifted evangelists that God impresses to speak to someone, who is saved at death’s door. Of people who wake up in the morning, and as they look in the mirror, they say: “God, show me someone I can speak to today about you!” And they find a check out operater who is going through a divorce, or someone on the bus whose child is in hospital...


They hear of great revivals, where God moves sovereignly, or perhaps someone marvelous has spoken, or even just walked by. They’re happy enough to pray that this would happen! But they can't imagine that God would use them like that...


And then there are the huge crowds turning up to hear gifted speakers, accompanied by signs and wonders to blow the mind, and streams of people hitting the sawdust trail, gloriously saved…
And the average pew warmer thinks, ‘what is that to do with me?’

WHAT IS EVANGELISM?

We don’t need a theological discourse here – it isn’t going to help one bit… It is enough to say that the word means “good news”…. We have some good news to tell people, but how clear are we about what that is? You might have some tracts to give out, but are they accurate, are they effective? Are they easy to read and understand, or complicated? Are they condemnatory, or are they preaching an easy Gospel, follow these steps and you will be happy ever after - no troubles?


We also know that evangelism is a gift – a special ability given by God – and we make excuse that we don’t have that gift – and mostly we are right! Even those who have that gift have to develop it – and great evangelists seem rare…


We could ask, how do you train evangelists, and why isn’t it being done? But that’s another question, which also incorporates overseas evangelism… Perhaps it should be seen that a missionary is a recognised evangelist in his or her own culture first… In fact, with so many people of other cultures coming into western nations, the boundary between evangelism and mission work is blurred… The Bible doesn't make this distinction...


But the ordinary person will still say “that’s not me!”
So, can ordinary people practice evangelism?


Oh yes, they can – but not very often in any of the ways mentioned above! If you are like that – I’d definitely say you have the gift of evangelism! Keep it up!

ORDINARY EVANGELISM

We know we are all called to be witnesses, to walk the talk, to be the only Bible that some people read… So, how do we do this? First, take a look around you. When Jesus said "Love your neighbour as yourself" he wasn't just meaning the people next door - but the people you come across in your everyday living...


Be open, others focused – and let things come up naturally…. These are days when experiences are everything – and people will listen to personal experiences, life journey stories… Don’t be afraid to listen respectfully as they tell you theirs – even if it involves sexuality and alternative religions… Think of Jesus and the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery. Don’t hide from reality in your ivory castle – it won't stick if you are already full of the good things of God. Verbal pollution can be washed off, if you know what you stand for… And if you aren’t clear about issues in your own life - well, it’s something to pray about too… One of the things that start a revival is that Christians begin to get more serious about their faith….


The preacher may set you a goal; "everyone has to aim at bringing one person to the Lord this year". That is definitely possible. For most of us, it takes time, it takes love, it takes caring, it takes real friendship which opens the door to sharing of deeper issues…
For us as individuals, being a friend is first…. This means work and prayer: how to make the contact, to bridge gaps; how to get on with sometimes difficult neighbours and relations and acquaintances…. Ask God for ideas….

And we notice that Jesus didn’t send people out on their own…

Watch what happens when you combine forces, and when you begin to get together with friends, or in your small groups, and become outward looking…. Prayer triplets is where two or three of you choose three people each, and pray for them together… If it’s a small group, target people who could be possible to bring along in the future...


Plan an outreach together – a new idea is called Servant Evangelism, and involves “doing small things, with great love” - as Mother Teresa said… “And you can change the world!” 


The buzz word is ‘random acts of kindness’ - but our version is to say: “to show God loves you”. For great ideas, see Ideas for outreach. In spiritual terms, it is coming in the opposite spirit of worldly philosophies of materialism, capitalism and humanism, although this may not be obvious to us… Ideas can be found on the website but things such as being on the look out for people who need a hand, giving away surplus produce – ask God for ideas!

HAPPENING EVANGELISM

There are activities that people are already doing in a quiet way, with little support or interest… Now is your chance to get specific in your support of local evangelism, and see their commitment and effectiveness increased! There are people taking the Jesus Video out, Bible-in-Schools teachers, children’s holiday programmes; prison, hospital and rest home visitation teams. Think how they will love you to ask how they are going, and let them know you are praying – give them your phone number for specific prayer requests…


Ask if they have any physical needs you can help them with. If this kind of support is done as a group activity, its strength is increased, perhaps just five minutes near the end of house group…. There is nothing to stop you doing this for overseas missionaries either… These days with e-mail, you can be as closely in touch as someone in the next street….
The truly gifted evangelist needs this kind of support, and their ministry will be wonderfully strengthened by it… Even in a natural war, there are at least nine people working to support the man on the front line… 

And speaking of warfare – another aspect of your prayer can be “spiritual mapping”. If you can picture generals around a table where the scenario of war is laid out, seeing where you know where the enemy is, and who, and what kind of force you are facing – you will get an idea of this powerful strategy. Targeted, specific prayer acheives powerful results.
John Dawson, in his book, “Taking Our Cities for God” outlines the three aspects that need to be discovered and collated in spiritual mapping…. The history of the area, the present day layout, and the spiritual “feel” of a place – which sometimes needs to be discovered in prayer and waiting on God… [Some work has been done in the Kapiti area, but not all of it…]


SUMMARY

People who don’t have the gift of evangelism can do more harm than good in trying to emulate hard-line evangelistic techniques. The non-Christians of this world have horror stories of ill-informed, brash, bullying Christians who are “scalp hunting”. Unfortunately, there is a lot of damage control to be done, before we can even get people to listen and trust us enough to talk about something so personal as their spiritual life… We can all do that – be friendly and caring, don’t hide the fact that you are a Christian, but be sensitive to where they are at in regard to previous contact with Christians. It may be necessary to ask forgivenss for our unwise and uninformed brothers and sisters. Someone has said we have inocculated people against the Gospel.


But it's not all sad news, there is a lot of spiritual hunger out there, and these days it is possible that people might ask more about what you believe… News articles are sometimes very positive about real miracles happening... So be ready to explain clearly – and you may need to seek God, and study how to do that….


It is also vital to strategize – in the manual, “Perspectives on the World Christian Movement.” the first chapter has two points of major significance to both local and overseas evangelism…

The first is to say: ‘don’t threaten and alienate people’ with your brand of Christianity – just give them the basic Gospel – which is life-changing and challenging enough, without majoring on things of less eternal significance – God will sort these things out in time…
The second is that we should, together if possible, “study, pray, and discuss how to take the given gospel to the given situation” [pg6 ©1981]



We are here to spread the good news of Jesus Christ – let’s do it effectively, and with God‘s love for our fellow man…

THE MISSION OF THE CHURCH IS MISSION – THE MISSION OF THE MISSION IS CHURCH

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