Thursday, September 9, 2010

Have You Failed In Witnessing?

"And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, 'Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.' Then he began to curse and swear, saying, 'I do not know the Man!' Immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, 'Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.' So he went out and wept bitterly." ~Matthew 26:73-75

How could a young girl and her inquiring downtown friends scare a big strong man?

Man, I look forward to chatting with Peter about this when I get to heaven, because sometimes I too have become afraid inside of things that I never thought would move me. The enemy traffics in fear. He and his slimy buds are good at using this tool. Any of us.. if we are caught off guard and not walking in the Spirit could wimp out when we need to be taking a stand for Jesus. 

Pete simply needed to be baptized and controlled by the Holy Spirit (see Acts 2). He needed to rely not upon himself but upon God. This is basic. He probably didn't pray for boldness that day. He needed more witnessing passion instead of an interest in protecting his own hide. Easy for me to talk huh?

I can relate to this and think about this often. Each day I radically need the grace of God to witness so that I can become what He wants be to become.. nothing less, nothing more, nothing else!

I sure feel like I can identify with Pete, can't you?

Perhaps you can as well.  

Can you just imagine how Peter must have felt after he had an opportunity to witness, but then failed Christ and the team only to hear a morning rooster crow and remember what Jesus said? Perhaps that is the reason why he didn't run so fast to the empty tomb and why his friend John beat him there a few days later. 

Sure. I remember how it felt and how it was as a kid when I had blown it during the day and then my dad would arrive home from work. Would my mom tell him? I certainly wouldn't be the first one among my siblings to arrive at his car or at the front door to greet him upon his return. It was a horrible feeling inside. I never intended to let him down.

Man, I have failed in witnessing multiples times too.

Hate that!

Wanna knock a homer over the wall for the coach and the benefit of the team each time up to bat, but I've sometimes hit a foul ball right into the stands. Gotta remember that not all "hitters" so to speak "started out as hitters" but all of em started out on the bench and on the practice field so they could listen carefully to the head Coach.

Over 250 years ago, Alexander Pope said, "To err is human, to forgive divine."

Do you ever err? Sure you do and humility can be honest about this. 

I hope not with your doctrine. All witnesses are called to be studiers of the Bible. We don't outgrow the need to have our noses in the Book. Gotta import before we can export right.

Yup, the Apostle Paul told young Tim ..who would (desired to) become a great witness, "The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops. Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things" (2 Tim. 2:7).

He said, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15).

The Apostle Peter agreed, "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen" (2 Pet. 3:18).

It really ain't bad to study how effective witnesses do it out there with unbelievers ..up close and personal as well!

"Sir, I'm not here to embarrass you at all, but wouldn't you like for me to stop and briefly pray for you? Together, we can simply talk to our loving Father about your needs right now? What do we have to lose? Do you mind?"

Hey gang, all true believers will learn witnessing lessons. They might hear "No!" from hearers many times, but they also might hear "Yes, I'm ready." 

They will hear neither if they allow personal failure to paralyze them and keep them away from people.

Some will learn more lessons than others ..if they pray earnestly and try to lovingly engage unbelievers in their culture.

If a man goes out and buys all the best tennis equipment that the pros at Wimbledon use, but never actually makes it on to a tennis court to practice, he won't learn as many tennis lessons as the teenager does who has cheap used equipment, but does make it on to a court to bat some balls around. Duh! He can read a lot about tennis and pass some tests perhaps, but witnessing for Christians is learned in witnessing.. not so much in seminary or at the library (and I personally wouldn't dis reading about it).

A lesson can be repeated until we learn the lesson.. but not always because time could run out for the witness or for those they are trying to reach.

The essence of a real witness (a saint) and of the unregenerate (sinners) is imperfection, but all saints need to be encouraged to go pray, to go witness, to try again, and to not give up! Lives are at stake!

Failure in witnessing can be viewed as part of the tutorial price of learning to become effective in future witnessing. You've heard the stories of how many inventors learned through a process of illumination about what didn't work, before they arrived at what did. But every individual is different, so we can't afford to become self-confident along the learning path.

Don't be afraid to fail and please don't fail to try. The circumstances don't have to be perfect to start. That bus stop might be half broken down and in a real bad location, but God doesn't care about that. He cares about those that will board the bus (in our town we often have angry guys with a back-breath preaching down at people at bus stops and I ain't talking about that kinda stuff)!

All Christians are witnesses of the truth ..good and bad.. but God can make you a successful and fruitful witness for Christ's glory. You've got to trust Him and take some steps in the light He gives you.

Ask your heavenly Father daily to help you by His Holy Spirit to not fail ..and then in the holy fear of God (yeah, with reverential respect) simply follow His lead one step at a time, one relationship at a time, and one day at a time. Moment by moment He is Lord and He is with you. He can give you courage, great wisdom, the right words from His Word ..and the right approach with each encounter.

If you sin, just admit it and ask the Lord to forgive you. Like Peter learn from that failure and go back to meet with Christ even if you might not feel like it. Get up and try again! 
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