Understand Preparation For Witnessing

Understand Preparation For Witnessing

Chapter One

Understand Preparation For Witnessing
Focusing Our Vision – Part I 16 Preparation For 'Going' 23
Focusing Our Vision – Part II 18 Your Life Is On 'Public Exhibit'! 25
Rescue The Perishing, Care For The Dying 19 On Being A World Christian 27
Is Christ 'Chained' To Your Church's Pulpit? 21 Discussion Questions 29

Romans 12:1-8

Focusing Our Vision – Part I

"I can't get my eyes focused! I'm having a terrible time trying to read! I must get my eyes checked!"

These were the words of my father several months ago when he began to notice a marked difference in the quality of his vision. A visit to his doctor quickly confirmed that there was a problem. But the good news was that the problem could be corrected. A surgical procedure could potentially restore his vision.

The procedure was scheduled and completed as an outpatient with very little discomfort involved. In just one week the doctor confirmed that his vision in that eye had been restored to 20/20. What was involved?

In simple terms, the surgical procedure involved the removal of the old lens tissue which had been damaged by cataract growth. A new lens material was inserted to replace the old. The result was, at age 82 his vision was restored.

I have been reminded through this experience that we also need a renewal of vision if we are to effectively focus on the needs of the people, the communities, and the world for which we are responsible. How can that be accomplished?

Many years ago, I learned in Physics 101 that if you were to place a frog in a pot of cold water and slowly increase the heat, the frog would eventually die of the heat without ever recognizing that a change was occurring which required a lifesaving response.

There are many things that gradually affect our lives that often require rather severe discomfort or distraction before we are compelled to respond. Our eyesight or vision is one of those things. There are several diseases that work that way and can even be fatal when the early warning signs are ignored.

The same is true with our spiritual vision. Even though we know the serious consequences of any failure to fulfill the Great Commission, there are so many distractions which cloud our vision and dull our vision and dull our sensitivities to the ultimate task:

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  1. We become so engrossed in building and maintaining our own comfortable lifestyles; we tend to lose our focus on the fact that God-given resources need to be dedicated to the fulfillment of the Great Commission. It's easy to ignore the scripture directive to "not be conforming to this world" by justifying our lifestyles by community standards. When vision is dimmed, our giving is diminished.

  2. We can become so busy in trying to stop the tide of evil that we forget to rescue the victims. Our sensitivity to the "lostness" of the "beautiful," "happy," and "comfortable" people around us has been diluted because we forget about the eternal consequences. When we lose the sensitivity of the "lostness" of people without Christ, our vision for evangelism is clouded.

The bottom line is that nothing is going to change until we individually, as well as corporately, recognize, accept, and admit that our vision is not what it ought to be.

"Dear Lord, please remove the obstacles that cloud my vision today."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: A vision of the lostness of people will surely motivate me to make application of all my resources to assure their safety.

– Edward Rickman –

NOTES:

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Romans 12:1-8

Focusing Our Vision – Part II

When we admit there is a vision problem, there are basically two options: 1) We can continue to live with the problems; or 2) We can submit to the obvious solution.

Although most of us would agree that we need to catch a new vision for doing God's work, the fact is that it will only happen as individuals submit to God by praying: "Let it begin in me!" It's hard to make ourselves so vulnerable as submitting to a surgical procedure because there is:

  • 1. Uncertainty
  • 2. Lack of Control
  • 3. Risk
  • 4. Potential Change

It's impossible for us to pray for renewal of vision without submitting ourselves to God's scrutiny of our personal vision and pray: "Fulfill the renewal vision in me!"

When the vision is blurred because the lens of the eye has become clouded, no amount of strength in new lenses will correct the problem. The old lens must be removed and a new one inserted.

What we need in our spiritual lives is to experience a Holy Spirit surgery which will transform our vision.

I am reminded of the words of the Psalmist: "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me." (Psalms 51:10)

My prayer is that God will begin to restore the vision in each of our personal lives as we submit to the "sending" eye of God. May we commit ourselves to His ability and willingness to restore and renew our passion for the fulfillment of His work in us.

"Dear Lord, do a work in me that will renew a vision in me and cause me to submit my whole self and resources to you."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: A renewed vision will require renewed action and renewed urgency.

– Edward Rickman –

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Proverbs 11:30, Daniel 12:3

Rescue The Perishing, Care For The Dying

Many of us are afraid to share our faith. A good rule to follow is "Talk to God about your neighbors and talk to your neighbors about God." Years ago a believer put it this way: "God hasn't retained many of us as lawyers, but He has subpoenaed all to be His witnesses."

The call came into our medical center on the island of Kyushu, Japan. A helicopter had crashed into the Yellow Sea. I was called to go on the rescue. The pilot's body had been recovered: the copilot was never found. My Japanese driver arrived just as a small fishing boat was bringing the body to shore. First, I searched for a pulse, but found none. A larger helicopter was there ready to transport the victim and me to an American hospital. I was exhausted when we arrived, having administered artificial respiration continually during the trip. Even though I thought it hopeless, I refused to stop in hopes life might be restored. A doctor was waiting as we landed and immediately took over the procedure. Neither of us was able to revive him. We tried, but our efforts were futile. It is better to have tired and failed, than to have failed to try.

Witnessing and soul-winning are not to be measured by success but by our faithful endeavor. The fourth verse of the song "Rescue The Perishing" reads as follows: "RESCUE THE PERISHING; DUTY DEMANDS IT. STRENGTH FOR THY LABOR THE LORD WILL PROVIDE. BACK TO THE NARROW WAY PATIENTLY WIN THEM; TELL THE POOR WAND'RER A SAVIOR HAS DIED."

A man who raised cattle once remarked, "If one of my prized animals was lost, my friends would go to great length to tell me so I could get it back." He went on to say, "In twenty-five years not one of my friends has said a word to me about my spiritual welfare." Are cattle more important?

In the small country of Wales, a business man spoke to his young employee about his soul. From that witness, the entire office staff became Christians. One man spoke to one boy about the Lord which resulted in many conversions. The young man later became a minister. I wonder: if you or I were to witness to someone today, who might they witness to tomorrow?

"Dear Lord and Savior, please help me to witness for You. Give me the opportunity and courage to speak to someone today.

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AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will cease being so heavenly minded, that I am no earthly good.

– Lowell Weller –

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Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8

Is Christ 'Chained' To Your Church's Pulpit?

The Great Commission of Christ (Matthew 28:19-20) was given to all believers – not just to Church officers and leaders. Every Christian, without exception, is called to witness – to share the Good News of Salvation with lost and dying world of sinners!

"A minister approached his church to find it thronged by a struggling, shoving mass of people who seemed bent on getting into the sanctuary. The steps of both main entrances were tightly packed. To enter himself, the minister had to go to the back of the building and use the door to the furnace room. As he crossed the basement toward the stairs leading to the vestibule, he heard a commotion overhead similar to what he had witnessed outside. Feet shuffled incessantly and a babble of voices tumbled down the stairwell to meet him. When he had finally wrestled his way through the vestibule and into the sanctuary, he found things much the same – aisles were jammed and pews lined with standing, straining people. What was at the front of the sanctuary that could cause such restless commotion?

"Finally struggling and coaxing his way to the platform, the perplexed minister discovered the reason for the crowds and great surge into his sanctuary. Christ was in his pulpit. On closer examination, he found that Christ was chained to his pulpit."

An improbable situation? It was really a minister's dream but one with such an impact that it brought him struggling to the surface of consciousness much as a nightmare does. And when its moral broke upon him in full force, there was no returning to sleep that night.

"Christ is chained to the pulpit in many fine churches these days. Is Christ chained to the pulpit in your church? If you assume that evangelism is what your pastor does when he preaches either Sunday morning or evening, then Christ is chained to the pulpit. Or, if you consider evangelism as something that goes on twice a year when a special evangelist is hired by the church, then, in your church Christ is chained to the pulpit. Or, to put this still more broadly, if you assume that evangelism is something you are paying your pastor to do, then in all probability, Christ is chained to the pulpit. If Christ is chained to the pulpit in your church, it is you and fellow laymen who have shackled Him there. You may be startled at the thought in view of your tithing habits and your blameless life. You may well be one of the most faithful members of your church. It is for you then to remove the chain and see to it that Christ gets where the hungry masses are. Then He will evangelize through you." (By Donald Bastian, taken

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from GO by George Delamarter; pgs. 28-29)

"Father, speak through my lips, express your compassion through my feelings, reflect the light of your love through my actions – all for the purpose of helping to fulfill your 'Great Commission' in this age."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: All are not called to 'preach' and all do not the 'gift of evangelism', but all believers are called to share the Good News of God's forgiveness!

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2 Chronicles 7:14; Ephesians 6:19

Preparation For 'Going'

Personally I do not recall any scripture which commands 'sinners' to come to church, but I do recall that there are several scriptures which command believers to GO to sinners – to witness to the love of Christ and the transforming power of God! The Great Commission to go and to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20) must not become the Great Omission of the Church! To GO to sinners with the Gospel message is not an option for believers, but it is a command given by no less of a person than Jesus Christ! If Going is a command, then how can you prepare yourself to GO?

First, make sure you are a true believer (a born-again Christian). One cannot begin to be concerned genuinely in the salvation of others if he himself is not saved from sin. Make sure you have personally accepted the Savior into your life by faith. He who calls upon the name of the Lord in sincere faith will be saved.

Second, confess all unconfessed sins to God. The Psalmist wrote, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me." (Psalms 66:18) As a Christian, have you relapsed into sin or disobedience? What are some sins to which Christians are susceptible? Idle speaking (gossip), negligence in church attendance, wastefulness in the use of time, indulgence in eating, negligence in daily devotions such as prayer and meditation and Bible reading and fasting, failure to pay the tithe to the Lord, cooling off in zeal for the Lord's work. Each sin must be faced and confessed to God. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins. (1 John 1:9 a)

Third, make sure you are filled with the Holy Spirit. Notes Bill Bright, "From the moment of spiritual birth, the Christian is indwelt by the Holy Spirit at all times. Though all Christians are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, not all Christians are filled (controlled and empowered) by the Holy Spirit." The evidence that a believer is filled with the Spirit? (a) Increased love in the believer's cleansed heart; (b) Increased boldness and confidence in witnessing.

Fourth, make a prayer list. Pray specifically and daily for individuals whom you would like to help lead to Christ.

Fifth, determine to make 'witnessing' a high priority in your daily life. A believer must not witness simply on the basis of feelings or conscious desire, but rather systematically, out of a sense of obedience, responsibility, and faith. This is 'way of life' witnessing – with or without 'conscious desire' to witness!

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"Spirit of the Living God, 'fall fresh on me'. Without your indwelling and empowering presence, I am a 'mess' (powerless and ineffective) but with you I am a 'message' (winsome in personality and convincing in witness). Please use even me, dear Lord."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: "He who wins souls is wise." I want to be a 'wise' person!

– Ron Christian –

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Matthew 5:13-16

Your Life Is On 'Public Exhibit'!

Christian values, tenets, and concepts are recorded in the Bible. But will your associates read the Bible? Your neighbors, friends, and colleagues will read you. And they will understand. Frequently they will understand you better than you understand yourself. They may know, better than you do, what you really believe about the sufficiency of Christ. They get clues in deliberate and in unguarded moments.

Early in my adult life I was impressed with the need and value of deliberately identifying with Christ in relations with non-Christians. I recall the defense of my master's degree thesis at a Midwestern state university. Through comments in graduate social science and educational philosophy classes, I had been clearly identified as an evangelical Christian. During that fifty-minute defense, the panel spent nearly the entire time asking questions about my religious beliefs. They were determining whether I held inconsistent beliefs and whether, with my values, I was worthy to bear the seal of that university as a master's level public school teacher. Both concerns were resolved in a positive fashion and the degree was granted. Five professors heard the witness of a life, speaking to their concerns. That exchange would not have occurred had I not deliberately and verbally identified with Christ.

If you obey the first commandment, Christ is the major interest and the emotional focus of your life. You feel deeply about Him and spiritual concerns. How natural, then, at a luncheon, to tell of the Christian book you are reading, the pastor's sermon outline, or the relevant points of your Sunday School lesson. Your comments will be accepted in the friendly conversational mill along with last night's party or sporting event.

As you share Him out of your life experiences, you should exhibit:

  1. An open personality. You will listen, weigh the evidence, and consider alternate views.

  2. An unshockable attitude. Regardless of what is said or done, your God knows all about it.

  3. Graciousness. God gave man the choice to accept or reject Him. Therefore, you cannot force Jesus on anyone. Do not try.

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  4. Love. This is without condition. Jesus loved and died for even the most despicable person.

  5. Tolerance. Do not force on others your religious beliefs.

  6. Boldness. Do not be apologetic. If you have Jesus, you are a winner, you are an overcomer, Jesus had a strong comment about those ashamed of Him (see Mark 8:38).

  7. Positiveness. You know how things will turn out. Jesus will triumph. Every knee sooner or later will bow to Him.

  8. Humility. You are a beggar showing another beggar where to find bread. As he observed a drunk in a Chicago gutter, Dwight L. Moody remarked, "But for the grace of God, there go I."

  9. A servant spirit. Jesus said greatness is found in servanthood.

"Precious Savior, enable me to be as 'light', 'yeast', 'salt', that I might permeate society in the marketplace, on the road, and at home. Then I will fulfill my mission in life!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: By His grace, my life will speak normally and naturally of Him!

– Dorsey Brause –

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Psalms 57:7-11

On Being A World Christian

Eugene Mthiyane was a tall, slender high-school student in rural Zululand, South Africa. He, along with several other youths, found salvation through the tent campaigns of a Zulu evangelist. I was blessed to be asked to come and stay for a month to teach the Bible to these bright young people. Each day I began with reading about a different ethnic group somewhere else in the world that needed to hear about Jesus. Then we prayed. I wanted these students to become world Christians right from the start. After one session, Eugene spoke to me saying, "Miss B., I want to be a world Christian." That brought joy to my heart.

Are you a world Christian? We learn a lot about our world today through the news. Did you know about Bosnia and Kosovo, Albanians and Serbs before the fighting there?

But God has a better way to learn world geography! You can do it through hearing and reading missions, and presentations about people groups like the Khmau tribal folk in Northwest Laos, or Kabala Berber in Morocco, or Uyghurs in western China.

It is exciting to learn that new ethnic groups are finding Christ and forming churches in the C.I.S. countries like Kazakhstan. Prayer is needed for church-planting young Mongolians. Did you know that Navajos, whose language has many similarities to Mongolian, helped start the great movement to Christ that is happening in Mongolia?

This is fun! With your Bible, a prayer notebook, and atlas, and resources like Patrick Johnstone's 'Operation World' you can be a world-Christian too! You can pray your way through the National Geographic or your newspaper also. Right now I'm learning about the Kalahari desert and Okavango river because a friend of mine is in Botswana to help the nomadic Bushmen (the San people) hear the Good News for the first time. Just think, one day in heaven I'll learn from a Bushman how he found Christ and I'll say, "I prayed for you!" Wow!

You can be a world-Christian right here and now as you share God's love with international students and refugees who come to our land. They'd love to tell you about their people. As they find Jesus they can be the best missionaries to tell their own people, and they won't need visas and cross-cultural training to do that!

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"Heavenly Father, You so loved the world you sent your Son. Stir my heart to join you in this work. Help me to be a world-Christian."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Today I am looking at the world's peoples through God's eyes.

– Beth Stewart –

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Discussion Questions

  1. Suggest possible reasons why many Christians become dulled in their 'vision' for lost people and lose their passion to fulfill Jesus' 'Great Commission' (Matthew 28:19-20).

  2. What can a believer do to once again become concerned about the lost condition of dying sinners? (Note Psalms 51:10)

  3. Give your interpretation of the following statement: "God hasn't retained many of us as lawyers, but He has subpoenaed all to be His witnesses."

  4. Tell why you agree (or disagree) with the following statement: "Witnessing and soul-winning are not to be measured by success but by our faithful endeavor."

  5. Put a 'check' by the following statement which most accurately describes the Biblical understanding of 'Evangelism':

    • ___ a. Evangelism is what my pastor does when he preaches either Sunday morning or Sunday evening.

    • ___ b. Evangelism is something that goes on twice a year when a special evangelist is hired by my church.

    • ___ c. Evangelism is something I pay my pastor to do.

    • ___ d. Evangelism is an activity in which every Christian must be involved for Christ gave the "Great Commission" to every one of His followers.

  6. Tell if you think the following statement reflects a Biblically-accurate understanding of 'truth': "All Christians are not called to 'preach' and all Christians do not have the' gift of evangelism', but all believers are called to share the Good News of God's forgiveness!"

  7. Why do you think that too often the "Great Commission" (Matthew 28:19-20) has become the "Great Omission" of the church of Jesus Christ? What can you (as a concerned and compassionate follower of Jesus) do to help sensitize the fellow Christians in your local church to the need to "reach out in love" to lost and dying sinners with Christ's 'saving message'?

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  8. In your personal preparation for' intentional witnessing', put a 'check' by those following statements which describe a special 'need' in your life:

    • __ a. I must make sure I have truly repented of my own sins and have in faith accepted Christ as my personal Savior.

    • __ b. As a believer, I have certain sins which I need to honestly confess to Jesus Christ, in order that I might experience forgiveness and peace and assurance and a 'clear conscience'.

    • __ c. I need to surrender my body and mind and spirit wholly to Christ, and pray for the infilling of the Holy Spirit that I might experience inner cleansing and empowerment for witnessing.

    • __ d. I need to make a 'prayer list', and pray specifically and daily for individuals whom I would like to witness to and eventually lead to Christ.

    • ___ e. Amidst all the 'good activities' in which I am involved, I need to make 'witnessing' a high priority in my life.

    • __ f. I need to make witnessing a 'way of life' – i.e., I need to witness, not on the basis of 'feelings' or 'conscious desire', but rather systematically and out of a sense of obedience and responsibility and faith.

  9. In your attempt to be an effective witness for Christ, put a 'check' beside those following characteristics which reflect attitudes that you desire more greatly to cultivate in your own life:

    • __ a. An open personality (ability to listen to troubled persons, with honesty and transparency).

    • __ b. An unshockable attitude.

    • __ c. Graciousness (treating all persons with respect and courtesy).

    • __ d. Love (acceptance of all persons, regardless of the kind or degree of their sinfulness).

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    • __ e. Tolerance (refusing to 'force' Jesus on anyone, but respecting their 'different viewpoints' and their 'free will' in making their own decisions ).

    • __ f. Boldness (openly and unapologetically sharing the message of Christ's unique person and His universal transforming power).

    • __ g. Positiveness (sharing the fact that, in spite of the inequities and injustices and mysteries of life, Christ and His Kingdom causes will ultimately triumph).

    • __ h. Humility (expressing your own personal unworthiness and that, as a witness, you are "a beggar showing another beggar where to find spiritual bread").

    • __ i. A servant spirit (communicating that you have no desire to exploit or to 'hurt' anyone, but that you desire to be available at all times to listen and to counsel as best as you can).

  10. What can you (as a believer) do to 'catch a vision' for the many 'spiritually- hungry' people throughout the world (i.e., what can you do to become a 'world- Christian')?

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