“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Matthew 4:19.
Welcome to the Soulwinnersr.us website. I’m going back to the Evangelism Question series to address some evangelism questions we might have. I want to qualify that I’m not an evangelism expert, and you and I may fluctuate and differ in our opinions related to evangelism methods. I want to propose, however, developing a plan, or plans of action for evangelism that are the most effective. The title of my second Evangelism Question post is “Evangelism Question 2: Establishing and Adopting Evangelism Best Practice?”. "Best Practice” is a term we used in my seemingly long ago 29-year career in mental health. Merriam Webster defines it as the following:
“‘Best Practice’ is a procedure that has been shown by research and experience to produce optimal results and that is established or proposed as a standard suitable for widespread adoption.”
In other words, for me working in mental health Supported Employment, my higher ups, which was the Ohio Department of Mental Health, established and adopted Supported Employment Best Practice procedures, which were tested and approved throughout Ohio and the United States as the best way to help people with mental health problems get and keep jobs. I had to trust that they knew best, and I tried my best to follow the outlined Supported Employment Best Practice procedures. More recently in sports we hear of analytics being used in making a vast variety of decisions. Analytic specialists are hired to analyze every aspect and procedure used in every corner of building the sports team, including hiring staff, and acquiring and training athletes. It’s thought that to put the best product on the field, it’s beneficial to go about it in a very systematic way. Sports teams usually have millions of dollars at stake, and most have concluded that analytics is a way to get the most bang for their buck. You might tell me, “Arlen, evangelism can’t be treated the same way as a sports team, a mental health center, or a business.""Where, Arlen, is the Holy Spirit in all this?” I’m not advocating throwing out the Holy Spirit in establishing Evangelism Best Practice. And I’m not advocating using analytics as churches did in the recent past to make them more seeker sensitive. Jesus, after all, didn’t instruct the church to be seeker sensitive to make them as comfortable and non-offensive as possible. He in fact said that many people WOULD be offended and uncomfortable when presented with the Gospel message. But in Matthew 28:19 Jesus DID instruct the church to “make disciples of all nations”! And I think we should use every tool at our disposal to make disciples. Is it only me, or do some of the rest of you feel the church does things haphazardly under the guise of following the Holy Spirit? Or perhaps because it’s steeped in traditions that are not easily replaced? I’ll give you one example. Why is it that when we get past school and college, and away from our jobs, that being a part of a team in a church to “make disciples” is mostly ignored? We go to church, listen to an encouraging sermon about the wonderful blessings we have in Christ . . . which is true . . . but we’re usually never encouraged and trained to take the gospel into the world in which we live? For the most part we leave our church buildings or gatherings uninspired to go out and make a difference in the lives of people! I don’t have enough influence in church institutions to personally make them change their approach. But I want to be part of a movement, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to start the church to thinking about Establishing and Adopting Evangelism Best Practice.
“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Matthew 4:19.
Welcome to the Soulwinnersr.us website. People from all over the United States and the world, about 4 million per year, visit the Old Faithful Geyser at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. They come to see the hot water geyser erupt well over 100 feet in the air at least 17 times per day. What is it about the geyser, and the 500 other geysers in the park that make them so interesting? People enjoy the spectacular beauty and phenomena of nature. Old Faithful is a natural phenomenon that is visited more than the other geysers simply because of its power and predictability. The other geysers are interesting to look at with the steam pouring out of them . . . but Old Faithful is by far the main attraction. Old Faithful Geyser didn’t ask to become a famous natural wonder. For many centuries it erupted in obscurity, except for the Native Indian tribes. It was discovered by American explorers in the late 1800’s, and in 1872 President Grant designated the area as a national park. If you can believe it, the first explorers and visitors used the steamy hot water of Old Faithful for the practical purpose of laundering their clothes. You may ask, "Arlen, why are you bringing up Old Faithful Geyser in relation to your Soulwinnersr.us website?" I’m doing it because of what I believe are three of the most beautiful and meaningful Bible passages. You’ll readily recognize them.
In John 4:10 Jesus asked a Samaritan woman at the well for a drink of water. She questioned why Jesus, a Jew, even talked with her:
Jesus answered, “If you knew the gift of God, and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would ask him, and he would give you living water.”
In John 4:13-14, after the woman didn’t understand what Jesus meant, He further explained:
“Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again. In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up in him for eternal life."
Then in John 7:37-39, while addressing a large crowd, came the climax of Jesus’ discourses about living water. Here it is:
“On the last and most important day of the festival, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. The one who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.” He said this about the Spirit. Those who believed in Jesus were going to receive the Spirit, for the Spirit had not yet been given because Jesus had not yet been glorified."
Do you get it? Literally a geyser of living water, if we believe in Jesus, can erupt from deep within us. The living water gets to the point, just like Old Faithful, where it can’t be held any longer. It will be very evident to all outsiders. In fact, it will be so evident that people will be drawn to us, just like Old Faithful. They will want to experience the living water geyser firsthand, and they will marvel at its power and predictability. They will naturally want to tell their friends about it. We will go from obscurity, just like Old Faithful, to becoming a destination for people to visit. We readily realize however, that just like Old Faithful’s power and predictability was provided by an outside source, our power and predictability also come from an outside source. They come from God’s living water given to us by His Holy Spirit that wells up within us.
“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19
The last three weeks I have posted about superhero power.
“Does the Church Have Superhero Power? If Not, Why Not?"
“Holy Spirit Power Like A Powerful Muscle Car!”
“The Living, Active, Enduring Power of God’s Word!"
Today is likely my last post about superhero power. We often talk about the power of prayer. But I want to dig a little deeper into the power of praying to an omniscient and omnipresent God.
Omniscient means that God is all-knowing, and has infinite awareness, understanding, and insight. David, in Psalm 139:1-6 explains it more eloquently than I ever could:
“Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I stand up; you understand my thoughts from far away. You observe my travels and my rest; you are aware of all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, you know all about it, Lord. You have encircled me; you have placed your hand on me. This wondrous knowledge is beyond me. It is lofty; I am unable to reach it.”
Omnipresent means that God is always in all places at all times. In Psalm 139:7-14 David goes on to explain:
“Where can I go to escape your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. If I fly on the wings of the dawn and settle down on the western horizon, even there your hand will lead me; your right hand will hold on to me. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me, and the light around me will be night”— even the darkness is not dark to you. The night shines like the day; darkness and light are alike to you. For it was you who created my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise you because I have been remarkably and wondrously made. Your works are wondrous, and I know this very well.”
Bible passages like these two simply blow me away! But what blows me away even more is the fact that with God’s omniscience and omnipresence, that he is just waiting for us to use “The Power of Asking and Receiving!”, which is the title of my last superhero power post. I’m not going to elaborate long on the following ten Bible passages that explain the power of asking and receiving. The verses speak for themselves. Let them sink deep into your soul. These are not just feel-good verses. They have power to change the way we think about God. Also, I encourage you and I not to get hung up on the fact that our prayers haven’t been answered in the past. God’s Word is true, and we need to take them at face value. Wondrous answers to our prayers are on the way:
Matthew 7:7-8 and Luke 11:9-10: “Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Matthew 21:21-22: Jesus answered them, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you tell this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ it will be done. And if you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
John 4:10 (Jesus and the Samaritan Woman): Jesus answered, “If you knew the gift of God, and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would ask him, and he would give you living water.”
John 14:12-14: “Truly I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do. And he will do even greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”
John 15:7: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you.”
John 15:16: “You did not choose me, but I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you.”
John 16:23-24: “In that day you will not ask me anything. Truly I tell you, anything you ask the Father in my name, he will give you. Until now you have asked for nothing in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.”
1 John 3:21-22: “Dear friends, if our hearts don’t condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive whatever we ask from him because we keep his commands and do what is pleasing in his sight.”
1 John 5:14-15: “This is the confidence we have before him: If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked of him.”
Lastly, Revelation 3:20: "See! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me."
This last Revelation 3:20 passage to me is by far the greatest example of the Power of Asking and Receiving in the Bible . . . for us to ask Jesus to come into the door of our lives. And for him to enter and eat with us . . . for eternity!
“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19
Last week the post “Holy Spirit Power Like a Powerful Muscle Car” was viewed almost a record number of times . . . at least for me. I didn't use Bible verses like I usually do in my posts. But I think it was a good analogy of a weak car overhauled to be a powerful muscle car . . . being like God by His Holy Spirit overhauling a weak person to make them into a powerful person, at least powerful in his or her inner spirit. Today I want to WOW you with the post, “The Living, Active, Enduring Power of God's Word!" I really love the Bible, and God speaking to us from the Bible. Many of you have heard the joke about a man trying to seek God's direction by randomly opening Bible passages instead of reading the Bible systematically:
The first passage in Matthew 27:5 reads: “Then he (Judas) went and hanged himself.”
The second passage in Luke 10:37 reads: “Go, and do thou likewise.”
The third passage in John 13:27 reads: ”What thou doest, do speedily.”
The joke is funny . . . but I strongly question the premise that says a person cannot be directed by God by reading random Bible passages. In fact, I would further go on to say that the Bible is so jam-packed with powerful words, that a person can in fact read random Bible passages to be inspired! But I digress. Back to the post. I used the three adverbs: living, active, and enduring in the title of this post because that’s exactly what the Bible says about God’s Living Word in the following scripture passages:
Hebrews 12:2: “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword.”
1 Peter 1:23: “ . . . because you have been born again—not of perishable seed but of imperishable—through the living and enduring word of God.”
In the post we’ll also explore the term: “God's Word”, or “Word of God", or some derivative used over 1000 times throughout the Bible. I'll say it again. OVER 1000 TIMES! First, if you explore the Old Testament the terms are used almost exclusively related to words spoken directly by God to the Israelite leaders and prophets. The leaders and prophets in turn repeated God’s words to the people. If the people accepted and obeyed words from the Lord spoken to the leaders and prophets, the people curried God’s favor and received His blessings. BUT, when they openly disobeyed God’s spoken words, they received God's curses that resulted in death, famine, or plagues. God’s leaders and prophets many times intervened with their own words of petition back to God to have mercy on the people, and most times God listened and relented. Although he didn’t eliminate the punishment entirely, in most cases he lessened it. Another example of the importance of God’s Word in the Old Testament is found in Psalm 119, which is the longest chapter in the Bible. It has 176 verses, and each verse talks about the importance of listening to, and obeying God’s revealed words, laws, instructions, decrees, commands, statutes, etc. Think of it. The psalmist thought God’s Word to be so important that he wrote 176 consecutive verses about it! To further the point that the power of God’s Word is living, active, and enduring are the following breakdowns of the term used in the New Testament:
The four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John refers to the term God's Word, Word of God, or some derivative: over 80 times.
Book of Acts: 40 times.
Epistles, which are the writings of Paul, Peter, John, Jude: Over 60 times.
Revelation by John the Revelator: 17 times.
So, the total references to the terms about God’s Word is used almost 200 times in the New Testament alone! The conclusion can be made that the almost 1000 Bible references to the terms about God’s Word should give us some indication of how important it was to God getting His message across to mankind, and how powerful it was! But what was God’s real plan in His written message with so many references to the term God's Word, or Word of God, etc.? It’s clear that He was making known with His written Word . . . about His “Living Word”! The following four scripture passages make it clear:
John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
John 1:14: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”
1 John 1:1-4: “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have observed and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—that life was revealed, and we have seen it and we testify and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us.”
Revelation 19:13: “He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his name is called the Word of God.”
So, who was made flesh (a man) and dwelt among us (which means living among the disciples and the rest of the people in Israel at that time)? And who was revealed to the disciples, that they saw with their own eyes? And who was the only person who wore a robe dipped in blood? It’s evident from these four passages that the Living Word of God was and is Jesus! So, Jesus, God’s Living Word . . . and the over 1000 references to God’s written Word throughout the Bible give reassuring evidence of: "The Living, Active, Enduring Power of God's Word!"