Equipping for Evangelism and Witnessing

Scripture: Matthew 4:19
Date: 05/26/2012 
Lesson: 8
"Whatever the important proper training, we must first be grounded in our relationship with Jesus before we can be 'properly equipped' to effectively witness for our faith."
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Welcome to Sacramento central seventh day adventist church. We're so glad that you're tuning in and joining us like you do every week - unless this is your first time and so you get an extra special welcome. We are located in Sacramento, California on the west coast of the United States of America and we love to have visitors so if you're ever in our area come and visit and fellowship with us. We have an extended family that joins us each program from around the world and they listen on the radio, on our website at 'saccentral.org' or on the various television networks so we are maybe not many here in the sanctuary but we are many around the world ready to sing 'immortal, invisible, God only wise'. Pull out your hymnals and join us - #21.

This is a request from jizelle, and malika in antigua and barbuda, veronica, angel, jasmine, steward, and hillard in the bahamas, zoila in Canada, chijoke in nigeria, sandie, vern, jamie, jenny, and yvette in North Carolina, zaniahya in saint kitts and nevis, amanda in saint lucia, and waleta and jennifer in trinidad and tobago. #21 - We are going to sing the first, second, and fourth stanzas. If you have a favorite song that you'd like to sing with us on an upcoming program it is very simple. Go to our website at 'saccentral.org' and click on the 'contact us' link and we will sing any hymn in the hymnal and we would love to hear from you. We get so many requests every week and so many of you say how much you appreciate singing good old-fashioned hymns and we love to sing them here at central church so keep sending in those requests.

Our next song is #73 - 'holy, holy, holy'. This is from lianna in Arizona, greg in ArKansas, josselyn in el salvador, geralda in Georgia, dave in Indiana, fermin in kuwait, jared in Oklahoma, cesar in peru, and ramon in portugal. #73 - We're going to sing all four stanzas. Father in Heaven, we are so glad that you are holy - you are mighty and we come before you this morning with reverence and with hearts longing to be like you. Please fill us.

Please use us. And come soon. And may we each be ready. Thank you so much for each one that is here and each one that is joining us from around the world. You know who they are individually.

You know their needs - you know our needs and I pray that one day soon we will all join together on the streets of heaven where we can sing 'holy, holy, holy'. In Jesus' Name, amen. At this time our lesson study is going to be brought to us by our administrative pastor, pastor harold white. Thank you debbie and musicians. Good morning everybody.

Holy, holy, holy - it's amazing that God even listens to us unholy people. Makes me tremble as I think about how holy is - he is - in comparison to my own unholiness. But we are here in his name and in his grace and in his mercy he draws us together each Sabbath day to praise and worship him, right? Amen. We want to welcome you all that are here and all of you who join us wherever you are joining us today - live streaming, on television, satellite, radio - just glad that you're with us. We have a free offer to share with you this week and it's entitled 'teach us to pray' written by Pastor Doug Batchelor.

Have you ever heard of him? Well, he's got this little booklet 'teach us to pray' - it's offer #717 - all you have to do is call 1-866-study-more or 1-866-788-3966. So that's the lesson this morning. You know what? I forgot to bring my quarterly - can I borrow a quarterly real quick like? We want to read the memory verse together, if you would, with me this morning. It's taken from Matthew 4, verse 19. Would you read it with me? "Then he said to them, 'follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

'" Thank you so much. It was a good lesson and I hope you thoroughly enjoyed this week. I am going - this is a class though - so I am going to do like teachers did back when I was a child in school. Clear your desks, take out your pencil and a paper - I'm going to give you a quiz. No, you don't have to take out a pencil and paper, but I am going to give you a quiz.

Now, it's not hard and you don't have to answer it - just in your mind. And the questions are very easily answered. You'll find them very easy, but they will serve as kind of an introduction as to some of the themes and concepts we will need to get into as we get into our lesson this morning. Question #1 - I'll show you how easy they are - in order to witness for Jesus you need to have attended a training seminar such as Amazing Facts college of evangelism - true or false? Well, you don't have to go to the college of evangelism to be able to witness but it's helpful. I don't think other people that we will run into in our lesson this morning ever had that opportunity.

#2 - When Jesus said that he would make us fishers of men, that shows us that we really don't have to put forth effort to be a witness. There's some truth and some false in that isn't there? We don't - in a sense you don't have to put forth an effort because you're going to be a witness for Christ, or the other one, one way or another just by your lives, right? But to really be a good witness, yes it takes effort - it takes our very best effort in fact. The reason that the laborers are few is because there just isn't enough money to pay the workers. No, that's not true, is it? Because we're all workers. Even if we get paid or don't get paid we're all supposed to be workers for the Lord, right? Witnessing and doing evangelism helps to pave the way for our own salvation.

True or false? True and false, right? You certainly can't earn your way - earn your salvation by witnessing for God, but it certainly adds to the enhancement of keeping you in a relationship with God so that you will be saved, right? Because if you're working for somebody else and you're trying to bring them to Christ and the knowledge of the truth and you're slipping away from God, do you think you're going to have much success? No, so working for others keeps you in tune - keeps you close to God so that you can be a positive effective witness for him. So there's some true and false in that in a sense. Now, even though the disciples observed the methods of Jesus for over three years, it had very little effect on their ability to become witnesses for him. True or false? True and false, in a sense again, right? They were witnesses for him but they really didn't become really good witnesses for him until after he died and was raised and went back to heaven, right? Because they were still striving for who was going to be the greatest in his kingdom. And they had learned - they had been learning from him for three and a half years but they didn't get it all right, so true and false, possibly.

Learning through failure means we should expect to fail so that we can become better. True and false again. We should expect that there will be failures, but we should expect that there's going to be success because if you're going to go to work for the Lord you're going to have a real strong enemy on your tail, right? And he's going to want to do everything he can to make it look like it's going to be a failure and he's going to thwart our efforts from time to time and it looks like we maybe fail, but we should expect success. One more. Successful witnesses and evangelists are people who are definitely better Christians than the average person.

False. That's false. Now, sometimes that may a degree of truth in it because they do stay closer to God because of their work, perhaps, but everybody that's a Christian is a Christian. That's it, right? If you've really given your heart to Jesus - whether you're an evangelist, a pastor, whatever you're doing - a mechanic, anything, you are a Christian period. And everybody's on the same level at that point.

Okay, let's get into our lesson. Somebody has Matthew 9:37 - who has that text for us this morning? Matthew 9:37. Somebody have that one? Over here - Matthew 9:37 - we're going to be introduced to the importance of this lesson this week and why we are to become - to become good witnesses for him - why we should be involved in the concept of evangelism. Okay, share that with us, 9:37. Then said he unto his disciples, 'the harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.

'" Okay, it's kind of a sad text when you think about it. If you had fields of corn and the corn was just ripe and ready to be picked and there was a high price for corn, do you think that there would be any hesitancy to going out and picking that corn? I've worked for farmers and when it comes time for harvest, I mean it is the only thing on their mind. It is the only thing on their mind. They get up in the morning and they fall dead to bed at night until they can't hardly move anymore until the harvest is in. That's not exactly how it is in the church today, is it? Are we that anticipatory to knowing that the harvest is that great? They're just waiting out there for us to bring them in and - no, I don't think that's quite the way it is, but that is the reason that we need to witness and evangelize - is the fact that one day there will be a great harvest and in that harvest what was going to happen to the weeds? The weeds are going to be harvested together and burnt.

Now, a major portion of the world just does not understand that fact and we need to warn them. Most people living don't have a concept of the fact that there's going to be an end to the world and people are going to be burnt and they don't know the details like they should. The responsibility of Christians is to warn the world. Now, I was recently reading about a study that was taking place where - about why people don't do more to save for their retirement. There are very few people - in the United States at least - that when they retire they have as much money to live on as they had been living on when they were working.

A very small portion of people do that. And in these hard times the Numbers are dwindling. So what they did in this study is very interesting, they took people and they did an age enhancement thing on them with computers. They could take their picture and with adding wrinkles and, you know, things that happen to you when you age, they could show you what you look like - going to look like ten years later and then another ten years and another ten years. So they could show you what you're going to look like at the age you are getting ready to retire.

And you know what happened? The people - a larger percentage of those people that saw what they looked like when they were going to retire began saving more money for their retirement. Isn't that interesting? It's really interesting. The reality of those pictures was enough to cause them to start saving. When we are young we don't think it's ever going to hit us that we're going to get to that age that we're going to retire some day. That's so far off.

So it is in this world when it comes to the final harvest and the judgment. Such thoughts are so far dismissed from people's minds. Our mission is to give them an age-enhancement reality check, right? The judgment is coming and it's going to come soon and it's going to be upon us and it's all going to be over before we know it. At the end of our life or at the end of the world there comes a judgment and we need to be prepared. Few in the world realize that this old world is waxing old like a garment as the Bible says.

We are to warn them through proper witness and evangelism. Now even we, who know the Bible and know the facts that Jesus' coming is soon - in fact, we can go down the list and there isn't a single thing missing on that list - the signs of Jesus' coming that tell us that it's got to be very close. Is there anything missing? They're all there. Every sign that Jesus or the Bible writers gave us about the fact that Jesus is going to come soon because of this sign, this sign, this sign, they're all there. And it's like, wow, do we really realize that? Are we really proclaiming boldly and loudly that Jesus is coming soon? Many people even who are not religious are telling us that something's up.

This world is probably going to come to an end because things are getting seriously bad in many different areas waiting for some great catastrophe - it's almost as if the world is waiting for a great financial collapse and when that happens - ooh, is the church going to be ready? Do we personally involve ourselves in ministry as we really - as if we really believe this? Aren't these the questions that we should be asking ourselves? The world is about ready to collapse and are we really witnessing to that fact? To the fact that Jesus loves us so much he doesn't want anybody to be lost? Now, does it take trained people to help people get ready for their retirement? Yeah, it's helpful. Some people are naturally into finance and they know how to work their finances and so they are okay in that area, but a lot of people need help and it's good to get that training. And so it is with people preparing for eternity - the more training we have, the better prepared we will be. For there is not just one prescribed set of methods to reach people for Jesus. If there was it would make it very simple, but everybody's different so there's a different method for almost everybody that there is.

But accompanying that thought we must realize the most important principle that's brought out in the lesson. As the opening statement and the introduction page says, "it is highly unlikely that a person who has no personal assurance of salvation will be able to lead another into an intimate saving relationship with Jesus." And they put in the lesson, 'although it does happen' - it has happened. 'The blind leading the blind doesn't happen very often' - spiritually speaking. Right? If you don't have a personal testimony as to what God has done for you, spiritually speaking, you miss out on the most potential power there is - the most potent power - when it comes to witnessing. If you don't have a testimony yourself, how are you going to be able to influence other people and impress other people? Now if you don't think that's important, let me ask you to go out and try to sell a product you don't know anything about - a product you've never used.

A product you don't know how it works, why it works, or even if it works. Go out and try to sell that product. You're not going to be successful I tell you. One of the first questions that you're going to be asked is 'does it work? How does it work? How do you know it works?' And if you can't answer those questions you won't sell it. The same thing with Christianity - if you don't know Christ and how he works in our lives, how can you be a witness for him under those circumstances? All right, will somebody read us John 4:39? Who has John 4:39? Right over here, thank you.

You know the story there, it's the story of the woman at the well. The samaritan lady came to draw water and Jesus strikes up a conversation with her, which is - was highly unusual in that day and time, but point by point he led her to see who he was and what he had to offer and then we come to verse 39 if you'd share that. John 4:39, "and many of the samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman which testified, 'he told me all that I ever did.'" All right, thank you. She had received the most vital point of all training and that is to know him who has come to save the lost. She believed and then she acted upon it.

Many who have been in the church all their lives have not had as much success as this lady with that one little moment that she had with Christ there. Now, another point that is worth repeating - and somebody has John 4:35 - who has that verse? Right up here. This is after the lady leaves and the disciples come back and they came back with food because they were all hungry and tired and they come back and Jesus is not even interested in eating food and they're - the disciples don't understand why and then he says in verse 35... "Say not ye, 'there are yet four months, and then comes harvest?' Behold, I say unto you, 'lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.'" Okay, the point we must remember is that there are thousands out there in the world that we have been told who are wistfully - what? Looking towards heaven only to be gathered in. Do you realize what that little statement of inspiration is saying? There are thousands just waiting for us to go out there and bring them in - thousands.

That's an incredible thought when you really think about it and leaders must not think that they are to do all the work because pastors can't get the work done, can they? Absolutely not. That's why we have such things here at Sacramento central as Bible - discipleship university. We have conducted other witnessing training programs - because we all have a work to do and it's the only way the work is ever going to get done - if we all realize we must be witnesses for Jesus. Sunday's lesson asks a question: how much fishing for men are we really doing as opposed to just tending to our own boats? That's a pretty good question. While we are to be out fishing in the vast seas of mankind, all too many of us are tending our little aquariums.

Now, aquariums are nice and they're fun and the things we tend to as a group of people with each other, that's all fun. That's all nice that's all good. We enjoy the fellowship and the things we do together but we need to go out into the big deep blue sea and fish for men, don't we? Yeah, that's what we're here for really. Now, there are a lot of comparisons in the healing of the sick and the physically ill - the Spiritually ill and Jesus often associated the two of them together and he says things like, 'whether it is easier to forgive men their sins or to tell this man to rise up and take his bed and walk - this lame man - he made those kind of comparisons and so there is a lot to draw comparisons on the two. And you think about doctors in this world - they probably have the most comprehensive field of study and education of almost any kind of field that you can get into.

Years and years and years to become - of study before they can actually be a doctor. It takes training to treat the sick for there are all kinds of ills plaguing society. Likewise with the Spiritually ill. Now, for example, if you come down with a nasty stomach virus the physician wouldn't give you the medicine for the hiv virus. It wouldn't work.

It wouldn't work. So, the same thing if somebody's got some spiritual ills and we try to give them something that's not even related, it's not going to work either. We have to reach them on their level and find out where their ills are and what their problem is. Now, scientists are working hard. They'd love to be able to come up with one pill that would treat all ills - wouldn't that be something? Here's a pill for anything you've got - just take one pill and it'll take the stomach virus, it'll take hiv, it'll do this, it'll do that, it'll treat everything - that's not going to happen.

In a sense - in one sense, that is the way it is with spiritual ills because Jesus is the only answer for spiritual ills, right? But the method to get people to Jesus varies as the number of people there are in the world. Ellen g. White says that soul winning is a science. Why? Because you have to study people's needs - you have to study their lives. You have to study what makes them tick and get into their life and then find out what they need and how to lead them to Jesus who is the fulfillment of their need.

Some of our attempts at soul winning can be like rushing to someone's aid who has malaria and giving them penicillin for the common cold or something, I don't know, it doesn't work. That's why the lesson points out Jesus saying that he would make us fishers of men. He doesn't say instantaneously causes us to be fishers of men. We need to train - be trained for it and become more effective and efficient as we grow in our Christian experience. But I can hear somebody saying, 'well, what about the woman we just talked about - the lady at the well - she didn't have any training.

She seemed to be instantaneously a soul winner.' Well, she was, she followed through on exactly all that God had given to her. She put into practice that which she had learned. She didn't go back into town and say, 'all right everybody, we're going to have a prophecy seminar now' because how well would she have done on that? Or 'we could have a healthful living series' - she didn't do that either. She went back and told what she had heard: 'this man has told everything about my life. I have found the Messiah!' If you've found the Messiah, you've got a lot to tell the world right there.

If you've found the Messiah - we all should have found the Messiah by now. She didn't attempt anything less or anything more. And that's a grand point for us, for you see, you don't have to wait until you're graduated from a theology school or anything else before you can go to work for Jesus. Share what you have and he will continue to give you more to share as you continue learning. Now I've heard pastor Batchelor talk about his very first series of meetings that he did as an evangelist and he kind of laughs about it.

He says, actually God blessed him not because of him, but in spite of him. And he said it was really - he thought he really did a poor job. Well, God blessed him anyway because he was sharing what he understood and has he gotten better through the years? Absolutely. Now, it doesn't work that just because you better that you're going to automatically have more souls baptized at the end of a series of meetings - that doesn't always happen, but the trend of your work will get better. The trend of your success will probably get better too the more you learn how to effectively work with God in the saving of souls.

Now, you just can't sit back and think, 'well, I'm a Christian I should be able to save souls - I don't need to learn anything. We do need to learn things. As you go to Monday's lessons - it's entitled 'learning by observing' - who became the world's greatest evangelist? Wasn't it the disciples? They went to work for God and they turned the world upside down after Jesus went back to heaven. In fact, Paul says - was able to say that he had evangelized a whole world - the then known world - they had gone everywhere with the Gospel message. They were the best and they had learned the most because they had learned by observing the master.

When one of my sons was a teenager he learned to paint signs - this was back before they had vinyl cutting lettering - you know, for signs back when you actually had to do the artwork. And so he learned from a master sign worker - sign painter - and so he started putting into practice the things he was learning and he was getting pretty good and there was a saying back in - among sign painters - I'm sure it's used in other professions - and that is 'earn while you learn.' And that's what he was doing, he started getting sign jobs and earning money while he was learning - getting better and better. And I remember one sign job he did and the guy came to pick it up and he wouldn't take it - he wouldn't pay for it because it wasn't very good. You know why? Because the lettering was so small - the guy wanted the letters so small it's really hard to paint perfect letters in such a small way and if the master - if he'd have been around the master sign painter when he took that job he would have said, 'no, I can't do that job, it wouldn't look nice.' He would have learned. But he learned by experience, didn't he? We learn by experience - in soul winning we learn by our mistakes, we learn by the things we observe and we grow in our understanding of how to do the right work for the Lord.

Now, let's see, as I - Monday's lesson - it's kind of hard to separate Monday's lesson entitled 'learning by observing' and Tuesday's 'learning by doing'. But allow me to share a little story about how the two work together. There's one day a man stopped in a convenience store to get a newspaper and he noticed the owner of the store looking out the window and he was - kind of like tears in his eyes - and he kept looking out the window and so he asked what was going on. The store owner said, 'do you see the bus bench over there? There's a woman - see that woman who comes there every day around this time - every day she comes, she sits for about an hour knitting, knitting and knitting and waiting. Buses come, buses go - she never gets on one, nobody ever gets off to greet her, but she's - it never fails - she's there every day.

So one day I carried her a cup of hot chocolate and sat with her for a while and got into a conversation with her.' Her only son lives a long way away - he found out - she last saw him over two years ago and since he's gone he got married and has a baby and she has never met the daughter-in-law and she had never met the baby. She told me - she told the man, she said, 'it helps me to come here and wait. I pray for them as I knit little things for the baby and I imagine them in their tiny apartment saving money to be able to come home someday. I can't wait to see them.' And then the owner goes on to say the reason the owner was looking out the window at that particular moment was that the three of them now were getting off the bus - The Son, the wife, and the baby and the look on the woman's face when she saw the family was just pure joy and when she reached out to embrace that little baby she'd never seen, the man - the store owner - commented 'I'll never forget that look as long as I live.' Well, the next day the same man returned to the convenience store. The owner was again behind the counter - before he had a chance to say anything the customer said, 'you sent her the money for the bus tickets, didn't you?' The store owner looked back with eyes full of love and a smile and replied, 'yes, I sent the money.

' And he repeated what he said the other day, 'I will never forget the look on her face.' Here was a man who had learned a lot by observing and putting it into practice by doing. If you don't do, you miss out on the joy. You can learn a lot by observing but you've got to also learn by doing because that's where it really gets to be exciting. That's our work - how do we reach people's lives to help them secure tickets to go home with God? That's our work. That's what evangelism and witnessing is all about.

Help them secure that ticket. The joy - there's no greater joy - there's no greater joy than to see somebody come to Jesus. Now Monday talks about John the baptist and his disciples. Somebody has Matthew 11, verses 4 and 5. Matthew 11:4 - verses 4 and 5.

"Jesus answered and said to them, 'go and tell John the things which you hear and see: the blind see the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the Gospel preached to them.'" Thank you so much. So here he was languishing in jail, having all these doubts - John knew what to do, he sent his disciples personally to Jesus - when we have problems, that's what we need to do - go personally to Jesus - and did these disciples ever learn a lot that day by observing? Absolutely. We have all witnessed people doing great things for Jesus and his kingdom. They do fill us with faith and inspiration as we see people's lives transformed. This message was enough to encourage John and he reMained faithful unto his death.

And his disciples learned by observing that they observed John putting his trust in Jesus, believing that he was the one and they continued - they then became Jesus' disciples also. And it's too bad, you know, that we don't have some of their names and some of their stories because I'm sure they had stories just as exciting as the twelve disciples. They had been with John the baptist before Jesus ever came on the scene so they had to have some exciting stories to tell, but we don't have too much to learn about that. Learning by doing - as Tuesday talks about, is where being a Christian gets exciting. Can you imagine studying your lifetime - if you were really artistic and you studied painting and you studied how to use the brush and the different strokes and the different kinds of paint and how to mix things and the right kind of canvases and you went to every seminar there was on painting and you did everything you could involve yourself in painting but you never put a brush in your hand and stood before a canvas and paint - with your brush dipped into the paint and started painting, wouldn't that be odd if you never actually tried it? Unfortunately, there are some people, perhaps in the church, that have studied it every week, talked about it, heard seminars about it, but never go out and actually do the work of evangelising and witnessing.

That's kind of sad, actually, because it's what really helps us be alive and unfortunately - we can't allow that to happen to us. Jesus gave instructions to the twelve. Somebody has Luke 10, verse 17. Who has that? Luke 10, verse 17. All right.

This is a text of what the 70 had to say after they had followed through on the instructions that Jesus had given them to go out and what to do and do you think that they were excited? Yes. Listen to this verse. And the 70 returned again with joy, saying, 'Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.'" Thank you. Think - imagine how excited those seventy disciples were - they went out and saw tremendous success - they actually saw things happening - devils being subject to them, leaving these tormented people and Jesus - and people coming to Christ and accepting him. It was exciting and that's the kind of work that we can be involved in.

Now, we know and have heard it all - perhaps all of our Christian life that God could use angels or he could even have the rocks cry out for him, but he wants to use us. And that's the good news - it shouldn't be a thwarting, daunting thing, it's good news that we get to be involved. Now, as we go to Wednesday's and Thursday's it's, again, hard to discuss one without the other. 'Learning through failure' and 'learning through success'. But before we go into the concepts that were brought out in the lesson, there's something I want to get to before we do that because I don't want to run out of time without discussing this.

People arrive where they are in life through failure and successes. People come back to Christ - maybe they come to Christ for the first time after a lifetime of failures and they run into one dead end or another dead end or they started with Christ and they left the church - ran into a dead end and came back to Christ - whatever it might be. Many a person has had those experiences. Some of them can have very wonderful and exciting testimonies and praise God for every one of those individuals that either come back to Christ or come to Christ for the first time after that terrible life of sin out there. The church seems to thrive on people who have had amazing transformations from the world of drugs and alcohol and the sin - pleasures of the world.

What point I would like to make, though, is that our testimonies must be correct or people can get the wrong idea. Having been around pastor Batchelor for about nine years almost now, he has one of the more exciting testimonies, wouldn't you say? His book has touched many lives. I know, from being around this long, that his desire - that his testimony has the right effect on people. He does not seek any personal honor or glory but he wants people to come to Christ because of sharing what's happened to him. But sometimes I get the feeling, from testimonies that I've heard, that almost make you feel like that old life of sin is a little bit tantalizing.

Wow, that must have been exciting for that person. 'I wish I could have that kind of exciting experience, maybe I ought to go off and do those things, then I could have an exciting testimony I could share with the world. Maybe if I had such a story to tell things would be different.' I hear people telling a story of how they came within a breath of dying. They were out there and things were so bad 'I almost died.'' Almost died? Almost died? Yeah, maybe you almost died and praise God that you didn't, you came to life through Jesus, but somebody did die because of those activities you were involved in. Don't make that life be glamorous at all because it was those sins that you were committing back there in that life that did cause the death of The Son of God.

Don't make it glamorous and glorious - that life I was in - sometimes people - they were even in the entertainment world - it almost makes it sound like 'wow' - there's got to be a lot of pride when you're in the entertainment world and you're at the top of the story - at the top of the game and people looking at you. Well, don't bring that pride into your testimony because it ruins it all - because those sins that we were involved in back before we came to Christ did cause the death of somebody - maybe not ours, but Christ's. Well, not all testimonies are like that, praise God, and thank you that all those who come to Jesus have a testimony to tell, but let's make sure we don't give the wrong story because if we do that's the wrong method - that's doing it wrong. You've got to let people know that that life of sin is something we've got to be completely out of and not giving any credit to it whatsoever. It wasn't the crucifixion that caused the death of Jesus.

He didn't die because of the nails and the loss of blood and the physical agony of the cross, he died the second death - not just a physical death - he died the second death because of the sins we all committed before we came to Jesus. He died. Maybe we didn't die because of those sins, praise God, but Jesus did die. And when we say anything about 'my conversion' let's think about that in the right light too. 'Well, on the day of my conversion' or 'after my conversion' - it's not 'my conversion', it's Jesus' conversion that he worked through a sinful human being.

If we start calling it 'my conversion' it's like we're taking credit for it. It's not 'my conversion', it's what Jesus was willing to do for us sinful people. Failures that come across with anything less of a message than that will never bring genuine success for that does lead us to Wednesday's lesson entitled 'learning through failure'. And the first sentence of the lesson that day says, 'sometimes we may fail to reach all the goals that have been set for a particular evangelism activity.' Someone has 1 Peter 5:8 - Peter 5:8 - right over here. Get the microphone.

Peter 5:8. This text reminded that the most holy work committed to mankind is that of sharing the Gospel - the good news - of Jesus saved will not be carried on without resistance. Okay, will you share that text with us? 1 Peter 5:8, "be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour." Thank you. See, that's the thing. You can't - some people get discouraged because they do try to work for Jesus and some of the worst things in the world happens to them.

Why? Because the devil hates that you're working for Jesus the devil hates that you're witnessing for him. How many times have you heard stories about big, major evangelistic series and some - the devil really trying to ruin the whole thing? Yeah, and then people - God's people pray most earnestly and God turns the thing - turns things around. I remember back in New York - the state of New York - 1995. The first time we were going to do a net series - you know the net series where people could see the evangelist Mark finley from all over the world if you had this satellite set up and everything? So the church there in elmira, New York - we were the only ones in the state of New York that were going to do this, so we were anxious that this going to be just - we prayed this was going to be successful and opening night came and the church was full - I mean it was great. It was exciting.

But then the worst thing happened. Turn it on and there's nothing there. The screen is black. There's no sound and oh man - it's a little nerve wracking. What do you do? We're calling people and we're working - 15 minutes I think it was about until we got things going - it seemed like hours.

Oh, sweating bullets and people stayed though, they stayed and they came back the next night. And they kept coming back the next night, but about five nights into the meetings we got a call that our youngest son had fell 55 feet in Texas and he probably wasn't going to live - better get down there right away - so I flew my wife down there and I went back and finished a funeral and I jumped in my car and I traveled all the way to Texas. Now, the meetings could continue because I wasn't the speaker and the elders stepped forward and they kept having these meetings nightly while I was down there with my son - praise God he lived and he's alive today - but I didn't know for a long time - and then I came back as the meetings were wrapping up and what had happened - the elders - so smart and so led by the Lord - they told the people that were coming what happened to the pastor and his family and so we're going to pray after the meetings and all these people - all these guests stayed and prayed for the pastor and his family and it endeared them to the whole church. And I remember that 17 souls were baptized because God takes things and turns them around when the devil jumps in there and tries to ruin everything. How many times have you seen that? That's why if something bad happens to you when you begin working for Jesus, don't get discouraged.

Pray on. Work on. Work through it. Jesus will be there with you and he'll lead you to great things. When God asks us to do something he says he will enable us to do it, right? And when he enables us to do what he asks us, good things are going to happen.

That's what we must ever keep in mind. And one of the greatest lessons learned from those meetings, at least for me was, it is never about us really when it comes to success. Yes, we must do our very best. Yes, I did need to get back there and make all those visits and talk with the people and encourage them and yes they were baptized, yes, but it was God working in their lives that brings about the victories, right? Always and only God. Do our best, trusting in Jesus.

One of the greatest issues for failure is fear, right? Fear to do something that results in doing nothing is the greatest of all failures. Can I say that again? Fear to do something that results in doing nothing is the greatest of all failures. I always like that little saying that says, 'do the thing you fear and the death of fear will be certain.' Have you ever heard that? Do the thing you fear and the death of fear will be certain. There are things that you're afraid to do and you stew about it and 'oh, oh, I don't know if I can do this.' But finally you jump in and do it and 'oh, it wasn't so bad after all.' And sometimes it turns out to be the best thing that you've ever been involved in. Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.

Go on out and witness for Jesus. Speak that word - encouraging word. Share a piece of literature with somebody and if they reject it, share it with somebody else. The death of fear will be certain when you do that because it's the right thing to do. That's because God will enable us.

Thursday's lesson is entitled 'learning through success'. One thing we need to learn from success very quickly is not to become proud about it. If you have success, don't become proud that you did something successful. I told you a lot about baseball because baseball was my life as a child. I was having an exceptionally good summer one year.

It seemed like I was just getting a hit almost every time I got the bat so my batting average was really good. My coach, through the years, had me batting different positions - first, down the middle of the line-up, the end of the line-up - I was probably down at the end of the line-up this year but I was getting hits so he said, 'okay, I'm going to change the line-up for tonight, I'm going to put you in fourth position.' Oh, wow fourth position. You know what that is? That's the clean-up position. That's the position that all power hitters are in. You know that's the worst thing he could have done for me.

You know why? Because I walked up to the plate different. I walked up there like I was a power hitter. I never hit hardly any home runs in my life. You can look at me and realize that. It ruined it.

It didn't take him very long - two games and he had me back down at the bottom of the line-up. You get proud about anything and it ruins everything. Right? Especially in soul winning. We can never get proud about accomplishing anything for God because it's God that's doing everything. Yeah, we do our best - we put our best foot forward - but it's he who works in and through us.

I cleaned things up all right. I was the clean-up batter - I cleaned off all the bases and we went out on defense because we - I ended the inning with a strike-out probably. Well, the lesson brings out the different aspects of laboring such as planting, watering, and reaping. I have reaped people some places that other people planted the seed, they watered the seed - and maybe they moved to my district just before they were ready for baptism. And I've had the other thing happen too - work with people, just getting excited about them getting baptized soon and they move off and then somebody else follows through and they're baptized there and I rejoice that they actually went through and got baptized.

I don't care who baptizes them - it doesn't matter who does what - it's that we all do something - plant, water, reap - let's do something. Let's be involved one way or the other. That's what Paul says, it doesn't matter what we do. Somebody plants, others water, somebody reaps - let's just all do what we can do. I've always rejoiced, no matter what happens, that people come to Christ and come to a knowledge of the truth in one way or the other.

It is salvation by faith. It is righteousness by faith. It is justification by faith. It is sanctification by faith. And guess what.

It is soul winning by faith. You ever think about that? It's soul winning by faith too. Go out and witness for somebody without faith and what's going to happen? Nothing, but go and witness for Jesus full of faith that God wants you to do this work and you are excited to do this work and God will use you. Just think, somebody may be waiting this very week just for you to give them a piece of literature. Somebody may be waiting just for you to say, 'are you okay? Are you doing all right? Can I pray with you? Things don't seem like they're going very well for you.

Can I pray with you?' 'You're a Christian - you want to pray with me? I'm not a Christian but go ahead and pray for me.' Maybe somebody's waiting just for that to happen. Only you could fulfill that this week. Wouldn't that be exciting if that happened to you? Yeah, that's what we need to be thinking. That's the kind of attitude we need to have each week. How is God going to use me this week - in witnessing and evangelizing for the truth? Is the harvest plenteous? Are the workers few? Unfortunately, that's true.

But if we all actually became serious workers - every day - every week - for the Lord, then that text wouldn't be true anymore because the harvest would be plenteous but the workers would be also plenteous and that would be - an exciting thing would be happening in God's church. Now, I want to remind you this morning that the free offer for this week is 'teach us to pray' by Pastor Doug Batchelor and you can get that by calling -study-more or 866-788-3966 and ask for offer #717. How many of you have this? Probably a lot of you already have this - yeah, it's a good little book - 'teach us to pray'. We must pray with faith. We must work with faith.

We must live in faith because we serve a God who is capable of doing all things. Just take a look at the world around you. All that you see came about by the creator's voice - just he spoke and it happened. It's pretty amazing isn't it? How many of you saw the moon this morning? It's supposed to be the biggest, brightest - last night sometime - it's supposed to be the biggest, brightest moon ever. You see things like that it just thrills your heart to think about the majesty of this world and the majesty of God's creative power - and one day soon we're going to see him face to face.

But we have a work to do before he comes, right? By God's grace let's do it, what do you say?

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