Experience Power in Witnessing

Experience Power In Witnessing

Chapter Three

Experience Power In Witnessing
The 'Secret' To Witnessing 52 Becoming A 'Courageous' Fisherman 60
The Authority Of Keys 54 Are You Ready To 'Go Fishing'? 62
Skilled Sinners And Addicted Saints 56 Helping People Get Ready 64
Learning To Be 'Fishers Of Men' 58 Discussion Questions 65

Acts 1:1-8; Acts 2:1-4

The 'Secret' To Witnessing

The great soul-winners throughout the history of the Christian Church have been filled with the Holy Spirit. Whether they were highly educated persons (like the apostle Paul) or 'blue-collar' persons (like Simon Peter who was a fisherman), the 'secret' to effective witnessing has been the infilling of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). In his helpful book 'How You Can Pray With Power', Lowell Lundstrom shares a vivid example of this truth. He writes: "Dwight L. Moody was a great success as an evangelist. He drew large crowds to his church, but he says that many of these early victories were accomplished '…largely in the energy of the flesh.' The change came when two humble Free Methodist women, Auntie Cook and Mrs. Snow, attended his meetings. They sat in the front row and prayed as he preached. Moody appreciated their intercession so much that he spoke to them about it. 'Yes,' they said. 'We have been praying for you.' 'Why me?' the evangelist inquired, surprised. 'Why not the unsaved?' His pride was a bit hurt by the implication that he personally needed prayer. 'Because you need the power of the Spirit,' was their answer. Several weeks later, Moody invited the two ladies to his office to talk more about his need for power. 'You spoke of power for service. I thought I had it,' Moody said. 'I wish you would tell me what you mean.' Auntie Cook and Mrs. Snow told him all they knew about the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Then they prayed with Moody and left. Moody said later, 'From that moment, there came a great hunger in my soul. I really felt that I did not want to live if I could not have this power for service.' He continued to pray for a special infilling of the Holy Spirit. Then one day in 1871, the evangelist went to New York on a fund raising mission. As he walked the streets of New York, his soul became hungry for God. Suddenly the Spirit of God swept over him, and his companions could tell something was happening. To his companions, Moody said, 'Get me in a room, and get everybody out and leave me by myself!' Afterward, Moody said that waves of God's power poured over him until he cried out, 'Lord, You will have to stop or I will die! I've got all I can hold! God, it is about to kill me!'" (pgs. 139-141)

Here is how Dwight Lyman Moody described the experience of being 'filled with the Holy Spirit' – and the permanent results in his ongoing ministry. "I cannot describe it, I seldom refer to it, it is almost too sacred an experience to name … I can only say God revealed Himself to me, and I had such an experience of His love that I had to ask Him to stay His hand. I went to preaching again. The sermons were not different; I did not present any new truths; and yet hundreds were converted. I would not now be placed back where I was before that blessed experience if you should give me all the world; it would be as small dust in the balance."

"My blessed Father, I desire not only to be 'indwelt' by your Spirit, but I desire also to be 'filled' with your Spirit. Give me the courage to 'pay the price' – full surrender!'

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AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: It is my Father's good pleasure to give me what I most need and desire – namely, the gift of the Spirit's fullness! Inner purity and outward power!

– Ron Christian –

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Matthew 16:13-20

The Authority Of Keys

While pastoring in a city, I was employed for a brief time with a janitorial service for floor maintenance in a department store. Keys to the front door permitted me to enter at 5:57 – 6:03. Wells Fargo, a security agent, took it for granted that it was I who entered the building within those six minutes, when the light lit on their downtown monitor. Once inside, I was not to leave until the manager arrived, nor could anyone else enter, including the manager, prior to 9 o'clock, unless granted permission.

There was a knock one morning on the glass door at 7:45. A well dressed man with a satchel wanted in, but was denied. He showed me his I.D. as an employee of the franchise. A call to security revealed that they had no one by that name with permission to enter the store at that hour. I refused his entry; and he said he would report this to officials; then left with curse words ringing in my ears.

I reported this incident to the manager, who wondered the intent of the man wanting to enter at that hour; and further, stated that I was right in refusing him entrance. The case was closed, except for spiritual lessons.

Keys are symbolic of authority and knowledge. Permission, entrance, ownership, ex/in-clusion – are included in the use of keys.

Jesus said to Peter, "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven." Dr. Harold Lindsell in the Harper Study Bible, commenting on this verse says: "Thus men of God have the power to declare that God has forgiven the sins of those who have repented and received Christ by faith." The hypocritical teachers of Jesus' day were shutting up the kingdom; actually keeping people from entrance. But Peter used the keys to unlock the door, as stated in the Book of Acts. He, by the Holy Spirit, convinced people that Jesus is Lord and Christ, telling them to repent. In one day 3000 people were brought into the kingdom.

At the Beautiful Gate of the temple, Peter, with authority said to the lame man, "…in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." And the man stood and walked. Arrested, along with John, and brought before the Sanhedrin, Peter boldly proclaimed, "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." Later, Peter used the same keys to unlock closed doors.

Christians hold the same keys when they proclaim the terms of salvation in Christ. You do too, as a praying, interceding Christian. Guided by the Holy Spirit and the Bible, we will not lose the keys through neglect, indifference, or misuses.

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"Dear Jesus, many people are bound by sin's habits, unable to find release. Enable me by the Holy, Spirit to share with them the good news of repentance and salvation. Amen!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I do not have the power to forgive sins, nor can I pronounce absolution, but today, as opportunity comes, I can exhort people to repent and receive Jesus Christ.

– Floyd Cooper –

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Jeremiah 4:22; 1 Corinthians 16:15

Skilled Sinners And Addicted Saints

The title seems paradoxical in inference to society's battle with addiction. And "skilled" is more in alignment with the positive aspects of the work force. But an examination of the two above scriptures reveal the title's correctness.

Jeremiah, writing of the spiritual and moral conditions of Judah in the seventh century, says that "they are skilled in doing evil" (RSV). The people are idolatrous, rebellious, wicked; they have forsaken God, they practice injustices. "They are skilled in doing evil."

A skilled person is one who has the ability in a particular trade or occupation. By practice, repetition, and devotion that individual becomes skilled in that trade or business or occupation. It may have been learned in an apprenticeship, or by a observation, practice and experience.

So Jeremiah says: "They are skilled in doing evil." "They are experts at doing what is evil" (GNB). Daily they practiced idolatry; repeatedly they rebelled against God; their mode was that of wickedness, even to the forsaking of God.

Society today is akin to that of Jeremiah's day. Repeated offenders, majoring in sin and crime, bound by destructive habits. Wickedness, evil continually, corruption, and violence describes our world today as it did in the antediluvian period. (See: Genesis 6: 5, Genesis 6:11-12)

Skilled sinners, one people; addicted saints, another. Tucked away in a parenthesis and amidst concluding exhortations and salutations is this observation: "(You know the house of Stephanus, that it is the first fruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints)" (1 Corinthians 16:15)

Addicted is to be devoted or given up (to a practice or habit, esp. a bad habit). Addiction is a habitual inclination. (Web. Dict.) The drug scourge has given a bad connotation of the word "addicted." An addict is one who is apparently controlled by something.

Was Stephanus appointed by the church to this work? No. How he fleshed out his addiction is not known. He lived out Chapter 13. Problems in that church did not deter his addiction. Converted to Christ, he yearned to express his love for Christ. How? So "Stephanus and his family … are spending their lives helping and serving Christians everywhere". (TLB)

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Through an inner change by Christ, skilled sinners can become addicted saints.

"Dear Jesus, enable us to snatch the perishing from sin; to weep o'er the erring one; to lift up the fallen; to tell them of Jesus. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: By God's grace I will be vulnerable to needs and hurts of others whom I meet on life's pathway.

– Floyd Cooper –

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Matthew 4:18-22

Learning To Be 'Fishers Of Men'

Jesus called some of his disciples from the life of being fishermen. Jesus based his call upon what they knew so well – "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. "What does it mean to be 'fishers of men'? To answer this important question, we must simply look at what good fishing involves. In his Daily Study Bible (commentary on the book of Matthew), William Barclay points out five characteristics of all good fishermen, and relates these qualities to the life of a good 'fisher of men'.

First, "he must have patience. He must learn to wait patiently until the fish take the bait. If he is restless and quick to move he will never make a fisherman." Paul said he learned to be all things to all men, that by all means he might win some to Christ. The Scriptures exhort us as believers 'not to grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap if we faint not'. That spells 'patience'! Adapting to meet the needs of all. A private (in the military) who was a Christian was abused badly by a rough and big sergeant. One night when the private came in very tired and wet, he got down on his knees to pray. The sergeant took his heavy boots, wet with mud, and "let him have a boot on each side of the head". The private patiently endured this cruel treatment and did a most unusual thing, in response to this abuse. Next morning, the sergeant found his muddy boots beautifully polished and standing by his bed. That gentle reply of the private by kind action broke the heart of the rough sergeant and, as a result, the sergeant was wonderfully saved and he became a beautiful Christian.

Second, a good fisherman "must have perseverance. He must learn never to be discouraged, but always to try again." During his long (and oftentimes, difficult) ministry of preaching and teaching and organizing, John Wesley demonstrated this wonderful quality. John Wesley preached 42,000 sermons. He averaged 4,500 miles a year (which means that he rode about 60 to 70 miles a day on horseback). He preached three sermons a day on an average. When he was 83 he wrote in his diary, "I am a wonder to myself. I am never tired, either with preaching, writing, or traveling." Barclay describes the rugged virtue of Christian 'perseverance' as follows: "It is that determination, unhasting, and unresting, unhurrying and yet undelaying, which goes steadily on, and which refuses to be deflected. Obstacles will not daunt it; delays will not depress it; discouragements will not take its hope away. It will halt neither for discouragements from within nor for opposition from without." (Hebrews; pg. 196)

"O for a faith that will not shrink, though pressed by every foe, 
That will not tremble on the brink of any earthly woe. 
A faith that shines more bright and clear when tempests rage without; 
That when in danger knows no fear, in darkness feels no doubt. 
Lord, give us such a faith as this, and then, whate'er may come,

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We'll taste, e'en here, the hallowed bliss of an eternal home."

(E. H. Bathurst)

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Perseverance will enable me not to swerve from my God-given task, however difficult it might be!

– Ron Christian –

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Luke 5:1-11

Becoming A 'Courageous' Fisherman

Which is more exciting to you – catching fish from a large pond or 'catching men' in a needy world? To certain fishermen (Peter, Andrew, James, John) Jesus said, "From henceforth thou shalt catch men." (Luke 5:10) In our devotional yesterday, we looked at two of the several qualities which all good 'fishers of men' possess. Let's continue.

Third, a good 'fisher of men' must have courage. Let's remember that, especially in the ancient world of Jesus' time, a fisherman faced the tempestuous sea in a small boat. That took a lot of courage! It is also true that the 'fisher of men' must possess a lot of courage. He must be willing to risk, if necessary, his very own physical life that he might share Christ with the unsaved. Never forget, more Christians have died for the sake of Christ in the 20th century than in all the other centuries together, since the time of Christ! Remember also that the word 'witness' (when it was first used by Jesus) meant 'martyr'! Every one of Jesus' original disciples died a 'martyr's death' except the apostle John (who died as a very old man, after he had been exiled on an island as a form of 'punishment' because he was a follower of Christ). To follow Christ, during the first centuries of Christian history, took considerable courage. But, amidst all the abuse and persecution in our modern-day world, followers of Christ now must also exercise great courage! It is not easy for a believer to 'stand alone' in the midst of a sneering crowd of unbelievers! But remember, "any dead fish can float downstream, but it takes a live fish to swim upstream!" The follower of Christ must be willing to 'swim upstream' against the 'current of popular atheistic culture'! It takes courage (as it did with Noah who preached so long to his unresponsive world) to continue to speak up (witness) for Christ, even when no one seems to be listening or repenting.

George Fox (1624-1691), who was the founder of the Society of Friends (Quakers), was a man of unusual courage (a great 'fisher of men'). Listen to his own account (in his old-fashioned English) of what happened to him at Tickhill. He writes: "I found the priest and most of the chief of the parish together in the chance! So I went up to them and began to speak, but immediately they fell upon me; the clerk took up the Bible as I was speaking, and struck me on the face with it, so that it gushed out with blood, and I bled exceedingly in the steeple-house. Then the people cried, 'Let us have him out of the church'; and when they had got me out they beat me exceedingly, and threw me down, and over a hedge; and afterwards they dragged me through a house into the street, stoning and beating me as they drew me along, so that I was besmeared all over with blood and dirt… Yet when I was got upon my legs again I declared to them the word of life and shewed them the fruits of their teachers, how they dishonored Christianity."

"O thou most courageous Christ, you 'never answered back when insulted; when you suffered you did not threaten to get even; you left your case in the hands of God who

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always judges fairly'. (1 Peter 2:23, Living Bible) Give m courage to follow in your steps!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: By God's grace, I 'dare to be a Daniel, dare to stand alone! Dare to have a purpose firm! Dare to make it known!'

– Ron Christian –

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Mark 1:16-20

Are You Ready To 'Go Fishing'?

Let's continue to look at those qualities which you must possess in order to be a good 'fisher of men'.

Fourth, a good fisherman "must have an eye for the right moment. The wise fisherman knows well that there are times when it is hopeless to fish. He knows when to cast and when not to cast." The good 'fisher of men' knows when to speak and when to remain silent. He is a man who is sensitive to 'good timing'. There is a time, when, if you spoke (to a sneering person about Christ) you would be 'throwing away your pearls'. There are times when wisdom would 'dictate' that you (as a witness) should 'keep your mouth shut' and 'simply pray' (for a rebellious person). Said Jesus "Don't give holy things to depraved men. Don't give pearls to swine! They will trample the pearls and turn and attack you." (Matthew 7:6, Living Bible) During a part of His so-called trial (which was a 'mockery of justice'), Jesus remained 'silent'. To some of Pilate's questions (and accusations) Jesus 'opened not His mouth'. A good 'fisher of men' is wise and discreet. Yes, Jesus was the wisest of all soul-winners. There were times when he was silent in the face of opposition and there were other times when He was very verbal. Jesus sought for 'points of contact' with people. For instance, with the woman of Samaria (John 4), His 'point of contact' was water. Jesus began with the physical and material and then He made an application to the spiritual. Jesus always had 'an eye for the right moment', and so must every good 'fisher of men'.

Fifth, a good fisherman "must fit the bait to the fish. One fish will rise to one bait and another to another." Jesus, the master soul-winner, fit the bait to the fish. He could speak philosophically to the intellectual, as demonstrated in the discourses in the Gospel of John. Or Jesus could speak illustratively and in parables to the more simple (and illiterate) as shown in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The message of Christ's grace is always the same, but the methods by which we present the Gospel must be adapted to the 'kind' of person (or group) to whom we are speaking (witnessing). There are intellectually-orientated persons who may need a witness which contains more of a 'reasoning approach' (apologetic approach) than the person who is more emotionally-oriented or more volitionally-oriented. The latter 'type' may respond more to the great 'challenges of a cause' which Christianity offers – for such a person is 'looking' for a 'great cause' to which he may commit himself. Adapt your methods (bait) to the 'type' of person to whom you are speaking.

Sixth, a good fisherman "must keep himself out of sight. If he obtrudes his own presence, even his own shadow, the fish will very certainly not bite." The 'fisher of men' is concerned in attracting people to Christ, not to himself. Focus on Christ alone!

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"Lord Jesus, You are the Physician and I am only the 'Instrument"; You are the Destination and I am only the 'pointer in the way'. You must increase; I must decrease!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: My 'glory' is found in being able to point people to 'the Lamb of God' who takes away the sins of the world!

– Ron Christian –

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Acts 2:20

Helping People Get Ready

I was surprised by this morning sunrise. It was very red and very beautiful. As I was not usually an early riser, I'd forgotten that sunrise could be as glorious as sunset.

Growing up at the foot of the sage-covered Horse Heaven Hills of southeast Washington, I saw some dramatic skies over the hills. As a child, I was sometimes awed or even frightened by them. Did you, like me, grow up hearing of (and sometimes fearing) the awesome signs in the heavens of end times. Did you associate that with the coming of Jesus? Did you wonder if you were ready for His coming?

One afternoon I came home from school and my mother didn't answer my calls around the house and yard. I thought of the skies and wondered. Did Jesus return? Had my godly mother gone to be with Him and I was left behind? My mother soon returned from a visit to the neighbors. But these experiences were part of God's preparing me to be ready for Jesus' 'first' coming. Oh, not the one at Bethlehem but the one when I asked Him to forgive me and come to live in my heart, when I was not yet twelve.

Receiving Christ as my personal Savior prepared me for the awesome signs of His second coming still ahead. Yes, I am still awed by great natural phenomena. Storms and earthquakes seem to be increasing in number and intensity these days. It's scary. How do I prepare myself for Jesus' second coming?

When Jesus left this earth he was taken up into heaven before His watching disciples. Angels asked them "…why do you stand here looking into the sky?" (Acts 1:11).

In Mark 16:20, we are told "then the disciples went out and preached everywhere and the Lord worked with them and confirmed His word by the signs that accompanied it." That brought much joy and excitement to them.

If we, like the disciples, are busy helping others get ready for Christ's coming we'll be ready for the awesome signs of His second coming. "…the great and glorious day of the Lord." (Acts 2:20)

"Dear Jesus, I want to be forgiven and to serve You, and to be ready for your return."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Helping others to be ready for His return helps me to be ready too.

– Beth Stewart –

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Discussion Questions

  1. After carefully reading the devotional about D.L. Moody (entitled "The 'Secret' To Effective Witnessing"), share your personal insights, 'feelings', and responses (or reactions) to his testimony.

  2. As a witness for Christ and as a soul-winner, do you have the 'right' ('power') to declare that God has forgiven the sins of those who have repented and who have asked Jesus to come into their hearts, during a time when repentant persons are troubled and doubtful that God could accept them into his 'forever family'? Why or why not? (Note Matthew 16:19)

  3. Even though you (as a follower of Jesus Christ) do not have the authority (power) to forgive sins, what God-given authority do you possess and can you exercise? (Note Matthew 16:13-19; Acts 3:1-10)

  4. Give your interpretation of the following statement: "Through an inner change by Christ, 'skilled sinners' can become 'addicted saints'." (Note Genesis 6:5, Genesis 6:11-12; Jeremiah 4:22; 1 Corinthians 16:15; Acts 9:36; Acts 11:22-24; 1 Thessalonians 1:6-10)

  5. As a skilled 'fisher of men', why is it important to wait patiently until the fish (sinners) take the 'bait'?

  6. From a Biblical viewpoint, how would you define and describe 'Perseverance' especially as this virtue applies to soul-winning efforts? Do you think that this Christian (God-given) virtue is one of the most difficult virtues for Christians (soul-winners) to cultivate in their lives? Why or why not?

  7. Do you think it takes a lot of 'courage' for Christians to continue to speak up (witness) for Christ, even (as in the time of Noah) when no one seems to be listening or repenting? In addition to Noah, can you think of other faithful believers (as recorded in the Bible or throughout the ages of the Christian church) who courageously 'stood up' and 'spoke up' for Christ, amidst times of great persecution? (Note Daniel 6:1-23; Daniel 3:1-30)

  8. During Christ's earthly lifetime, share ways and 'occasions' in which He manifested unusual courage. Do you believe that (like Christ) the most courageous persons (believers) are those who "return good for evil", who continue to trust God even when "wrong seems so strong" and when "right goes unrecognized and unrewarded"? (Note 1 Peter 2:20-23)

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  9. Give your 'explanation' of the meaning of the following statement as it applies to the life of a skilled 'fisher of men, (witness): "The good 'fisher of men' is sensitive to 'good timing'."

  10. As it relates to 'good timing' and to discreet understanding of the 'context' (and the 'spiritual condition' of the person to whom you are witnessing), how would you apply Jesus' teaching as recorded in Matthew 7:6?

  11. After reading the 4th chapter of the Gospel of John, how would you describe Jesus' 'point of contact' with the Samaritan Woman? What have you discovered to be some of the most effective 'points of contact' ('openings') with unbelievers to whom you have witnessed?

  12. From your own personal experiences in witnessing, and from your observation of other effective soul-winners, and from your study of God's Word, give examples which illustrate the truth of the following statement: "The message of Christ's grace is always the same, but the methods by which we present the Gospel must be adapted to the 'kind' of person (or group) to whom we are speaking (witnessing)."

  13. Practically-speaking, what does it mean for a 'fisher of men' to "keep himself out of sight" when he is witnessing and seeking to lead a person (sinner) to a 'saving knowledge of Christ'?

  14. What affect does one's personal knowledge that his sins are forgiven have upon him, as he becomes increasingly sensitive to the calamities (catastrophic) happenings throughout the world, and as he sees the 'signs for the last times' and realizes that Christ may soon return to earth?

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