Houston, TX (ANS) – Sometimes, it may seem there is not much to be thankful for or encouraged about. Looking at all that is going on around us can be discouraging. Times of trouble are often what it takes to prompt us to look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. A conversation with a friend reminded me of the value of knowing Scripture and the ways of God. Throughout history God has used troubling times to get people’s attention. Many turn to the Lord during times of suffering, problems and difficulties. It could be that these are the times for us to soar to greater heights of usefulness to God. One of my long distance mentors use to say that our problems, suffering and troubling times can be opportunities to “focus our faith, fashion our character, and fit us for service.”
Power of Conversations
It was encouraging to reconnect with a friend recently that I first met more than 40 years ago. Bill was a professor at a Christian college and a very religious person. However, he had not come to a personal relationship with Jesus. Through some ongoing witnessing and engaging conversations, he came to the Lord. As a result, he began sharing his faith and several family members and friends came to the Lord. He later became a pastor, as well as a business as mission practitioner. Much fruit has come from Bill’s life and ministry over the past four decades.
Work of the Spirit
The lasting impact of transformed lives is ultimately the work of the Holy Spirit, not our plans or human effort. We are often amazed and surprised at the spontaneous work of the Spirit when we obey Him and reach out with the love and message of Jesus. Strategies, plans and methods are valuable and needed. However, when we walk with God, obey His leading, and act in faith, we can expect His redemptive activity of multiplying disciples. Communicating the Good News of Jesus and making disciples is sometimes more fruitful during hard times.
Fruit that Multiplies and Reproduces
As followers of Jesus, it is important to recognize the power of sowing God’s truth into the lives of those we have contact with on a regular basis. It could be a shopping mall, a trade show, a convention center or just a walk in the neighborhood where we encounter those who need the Lord. Ultimately, it’s Christ Himself, living in us, who produces fruit that remains and reproduces. As we faithfully share the good seed of the Word of God, we can expect it to connect with fertile soil.
Think of conversations most of us have on a regular basis that could become spiritual encounters. Simply sharing our own testimony, an answer to prayer or reporting some activity of God in our lives or others can be a powerful strategy. Even sharing accounts of spiritual movements around the world can capture people’s attention and open up significant conversations. Some followers of Jesus have come to believe that they need some special skill or gifting in order to lead others to the Lord. The fact is, anyone who has had a genuine encounter with the Living Christ has something to share.
The Cutting Edge of Disciple Making
Over the past decade of Orality training and practices with Living Water International, we’ve observed how participants come alive with new passion for sharing the Gospel and making disciples. The cutting edge of disciple making and church multiplication is appropriately communicating the Good News of Jesus, then nurturing believers on their journey. Another important lesson we’ve learned is that you don’t have to be a great storyteller, because we have great stories (God’s story) to tell. When we communicate God’s message accurately, we can have confidence that the Holy Spirit will touch hearts and change lives.
Prayer and Abundant Gospel Sowing
Missiologist and author, Dr. David Garrison points out that the top two factors in Church Planting Movements today are Prayer and Abundant Gospel Sowing. Those are simple things that every believer can engage in. We are discovering that Bible Storying and Orality Training strategies are equipping believers with tools of the age, as well as with tools of the ages, to share God’s Word in many forms of expression. Concepts, principles and practices of Orality are actually the most effective ways and means that people have learned and communicated from the beginning of time.
Power of Simplicity and Kindness
God seems to be leading many of us these days to simplify our lives, as well as our methods of missions and ministry. We all live in a mission field, made up of our families, neighbors, co-workers and friends. Another category we could call, all others, those contacts we have in our normal traffic patterns. Wherever we happen to be we have opportunities to pray, speak a word of blessing or encouragement, as well as demonstrate acts of kindness. Those are all ways of sowing seeds that can produce much fruit.
On Mission with God
One of my mentors over the years was the late Dr. Avery Willis. A favorite saying of his was, “You can count the seeds in an apple, but you can’t count the apples in a seed.” That is the way the Kingdom of God grows. Principles of the Kingdom of God that Jesus talked about, the mustard seed and the yeast, illustrate how little things can have big impact. There really is no greater joy than being “On Mission with God” and being part of making a difference in people’s eternal destinies.
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