Be Prepared: Taking the fear out of sharing your faith

Today the title of my message is, “Be Prepared: Taking the fear out of sharing your faith”.

As a new Christian, and a number of times since, the thought of evangelism has been a pretty scary thing. I was told that I needed to share my faith so I could reach other people for Christ. And the more people I reached, the sooner it would be for Jesus to come back. This made me very nervous. It was something I wanted to do, but I felt terribly under-equipped. From talking to others, I found I was not alone.

We have all heard those verses that say, “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:18-20) and “And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it” (1 Peter 3:15). For some this is very exciting, for other this brings fear to their hearts!

Over the years I have found that I have learned a lot about sharing my faith. I found there were certain things that helped me be a little bit more prepared. This took a lot of the stress out of sharing my faith. Today I want to share some of those things. As I go through them I am going to share some of my successes and some of my failures.

I want this message to be really practical and helpful to us and hopefully give us some pointers to sharing our faith.

1. Pray for the Holy Spirit to move in people’s lives

The first key we need to understand to be more effective in sharing our faith is praying the Holy Spirit to move.

John 16:8 – And when He comes, He will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgement.

It is the Holy Spirit’s role to do the work of salvation.

When I meet new people I always pray and ask God if this is someone I should share my faith with. If it is someone I need to talk to, I usually find I have the desire to pray for them and opportunities to talk about spiritual things tend to open up in a natural way.

When I am praying for someone I ask the Holy Spirit to move in their lives. I pray five general things.

  1. God would bless them and protect them.
  2. That the Holy Spirit would draw them to Jesus Christ
  3. That the Holy Spirit would show them their sin.
  4. That the Holy Spirit would make them aware of the need for a Saviour.
  5. That they would accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour.

So this might be an example of how I pray for someone.

Dear God, I pray for __________. I pray that You will bless them, protect them and watch over them. I pray that the Holy Spirit would move in their lives. Holy Spirit please reveal Jesus to them. Open their hearts and minds to Him. I pray that you will make them aware of their need for a Saviour. Please show them their sin and the need to deal with it. I pray they will trust Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. Amen.

I have found that if God puts someone on my heart to pray this for, before long they are talking to me about spiritual things and they have a tract and a Bible in their hands.

2. Prepare a Testimony

A testimony can bring the Bible to life. I have found that people love hearing stories of how God has done great things for you. When I share about my testimony I touch on three main areas. These three things really help me to structure my story and how Jesus’ story impacted and changed my life.

  • My life before Christ – I share things like how I felt, my illness, my upbringing, what sort of things I was in to, and the sense of emptiness I had inside. These things set the scene.
  • My conversion – I then share how I came to Jesus. I talk about how I was feeling in the year before coming to Jesus, the people who helped me and the story of Jesus coming to die on the cross for me.
  • How my life has changed – In this final section I share how knowing Jesus personally has changed my whole life and outlook. I talk about the love, acceptance, hope, joy and purpose I now feel inside.

For some of us we can not think of a time when you didn’t know Jesus. You can share things some of the things that God has done for you. I actually have several short testimonies that I share with people depending on the situation.

I have had times when someone has simply said, “Dave you are a Christian right? Why do you believe?” And I have shared a short testimony and a few days later they are saved.

3. Know relevant Bible verses

Knowing some relevant Bible verses can be really helpful when sharing your faith. Especially if it someone who has had previous exposure to the Bible or shows and interest in reading it.

I have found that if you just read the Book of Romans with someone you could explain God’s plan of salvation for them.

“Romans road” is a great place to start –

  • The Natural State Of Man – Romans 3:10 “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one”
  • The Reason – Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”
  • The Cause – Romans 5:12 “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned”
  • The Penalty and Gift – Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”
  • The Love of God – Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
  • The Remedy – Romans 10:9-11 “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”
  • The Decision – Romans 10:13 “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Work out a simple presentation by putting a few verses together and memorise them. You might like to write them in the back of your Bible so you can refer to them easily. If you can’t remember them all, remember the first one and put references to the next one in your margin of your Bible.

4. Have some evangelistic tools handy

There are a variety of evangelistic tools that you can use to reach people. Sometimes people seem to want to talk about things at the strangest times. Having something on hand can help in those situations. Here are a few examples –

  • Tracts – You can keep one handy in your purse or wallet just in case an opportunity arises. They are very handy if you don’t have much time or perhaps are a bit nervous about sharing your faith. You can even put a library pocket in the back of all your books. Instead of a library card, put a tract in it!
  • Websites – Look out for websites that may help you to reach your friends. Many websites have a “refer to a friend” page that sends an email message on your behalf bringing the site to their attention. You can also share things on Facebook for a wider audience.
  • DVDs – The “Jesus” video is a great way to reach people. In just over an hour you see the whole life of Christ and at the end if gives the opportunity to receive Christ as Lord and Saviour. You could buy one for yourself and one to give away! These days, it is available online to stream at www.Jesusfilm.org,

The most effective three things I have used is tracts my website passionaustralia.org and the Jesus movie. I have given away thousands of tracts and hundreds of Jesus videos and many people have been saved as a result. I have had ten of millions of visitors to my website.

As an example, one Jesus video was viewed by 66 people and many got saved. We gave one to a lady and she watched it and got saved. When her husband got home they watched it again. He got saved. When the kids came home, they watched it again and they got saved. The lady took it to her work and the residents of her nursing home all watched it. Many prayed to receive Jesus.

So one resource in your hand can make a huge difference. Like the fish and loaves in Jesus’ hands.

5. Learn the sinner’s prayer

The sinner’s prayer is a simple prayer that you can go through with someone to make their connection with Jesus Christ. It gives the person the opportunity to confess their sin to God and invite Jesus Christ into their lives as Lord and Saviour. There are two examples below that you can use or memorise.

From Billy Graham

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Saviour. In Your Name. Amen

From Campus Crusade for Christ

Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Saviour and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be. Amen

Closing Summary

Today I wanted to encourage you in your evangelism efforts. The main point I hope you got is that you can be more effective in your efforts if you think and prepare beforehand. As we saw there are five things we can do.

1. Pray for people

2. Prepare a testimony

3. Learn key Bible verses

4. Have some resources ready

5. Learn the sinner’s prayer

Closing Prayer

Dear God,
I pray that You will use me to reach others for Christ. Please help me to be effective in sharing my faith. Please help me to know whom to talk to and I pray that You will give me the right words to say when the time comes. I pray for all my family, friends and neighbours. I pray that the Holy Spirit will draw them to Jesus and make them aware of their need for salvation. Please use me to lead them to Christ. I also pray Lord that when people come to You that You will help me to teach them about You and how to follow You each day. I pray that I will help make disciples.
I ask this in Jesus’, Amen.

Life giving words

Proverbs 12:25 TPT – Anxious fear brings depression, but a life-giving word of encouragement can do wonders to restore joy to the heart.

Life giving words. I really like that thought, that we can speak life to those around us. I really like that we can bring encouragement to people who have anxious fear or depression.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I find it hard to talk to people who are really anxious, fearful or depressed. It is hard to know the right words to say and how much to say.

One of the best things I learned is that when talking to an anxious or depressed person is to listen more than I speak. Someone once told me we have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we speak. It helped me a lot!

Often if I am with someone who is in this space I will just listen and let them know I am right there with them. I am here to listen and help. I focus on this first and then try to offer life giving words at the end.

Numerous times as a Pastor or Chaplain I have been with people in this place. Life has just gotten on top of them at the moment and they need a listening ear and some encouraging words.

I have learned to slow down and not try to fix the situation and to just be present. Be there 100% to support. Listen and then try to offer a few life giving words of hope. Often this is all most people need.

There is so much power in our words. Words can heal and bring hope. And as the verse above says, “a life-giving word of encouragement can do wonders to restore joy to the heart.”

Blessings,
Dave

My solitary place

A number of places in the Bible we see that Jesus went off to a solitary place to pray. Mark 1:35 says He did it early in the morning. His desire was to go and be alone with His Father in heaven.

I have a few solitary places I go to be alone with God in prayer. The photo above is one of the places. It is up on a Peak that overlooks our town. Depending on which way I go to get there, it can take 15 minutes or 45 minutes to walk to it. One is steep and quick and the other one is slow and winding.

Sometimes I go to this place once a week and spend some time in prayer. This is usually in the cooler months of the year. At other times it is less often, but I go up there when I need space to hear from God, especially when I need wisdom (see James 1:5).

As it is up high I can see most of my town, farming land or a forrest depending on which way I look. Not only does it get me away from work, but it slows me down. It has a way of calming me and centring my mind on God. I find it easy to hear from Him in a solitary place like this.

Every time I go up the Peak I can see why Jesus did it. It has a way of stripping the external noise away and just making it about me and God, Him and me. Sometimes I pray. Sometimes I am quiet. Sometimes I just listen for an answer.

How about you? Have you got a solitary place you go to be with God? Do you have a Peak you go to? Or another place? If not, I wonder if that will help you to draw aside like Jesus did. For me, it really calms my mind and helps me to draw near to God.

Blessings,
Dave

God’s fingerprints in our lives

My wife and I were talking with someone recently about how God was active in our lives as kids or teens. We didn’t know Him or go to church then, but looking back we can see His fingerprints.

I can remember in grade three at school colouring in a cross in Scripture class. I was captivated by the cross and the thought that someone would die for me. It spoke to me in a way that I didn’t fully understand. Nearly 50 years later I still remember it.

Likewise, at school my wife was fascinated by a book in the library that had Bible stories with coloured pictures. She loaned the book so often that the librarian commented to her about it. She said she liked the book so much, but she didn’t know why.

There are many other memories of how God entered our lives and gently nudged us in His direction. He brought people and situations to us to be links in the chain to find Him. It really is amazing when you reflect on it. So many things seem like co-incidences, but are actually God-incidences He orchestrated.

How about you? Can you see the fingerprints of God when you look back? I think that is worth reflecting on today.

Blessings,
Dave