Surely we, both as individuals and as a church, must take Christ’s commission to take the Good News to the nations seriously, and we do. But sometimes focusing on the many can cause us to overlook the importance of going after the one! Yet, God never overlooks the one.
Luke the physician wrote Acts as a historical record of the early church. This first century church was marked by God’s presence and power in such a vital way that they literally turned the world upside down for Christ. What was their secret? They followed God’s plan. In Luke’s book of Acts, he recorded how the early church followed God’s plan to be His witnesses.
Below is an automated transcript of this messagenumbers We live by numbers, we track and counter measure everything. And sometimes we think the only numbers that really matter are the big ones. But it’s the single digits that make the difference. The Bible says that heaven rejoices with number one. Yeah, heaven rejoices each time even one person comes to know Jesus. We pastors dream about big numbers and we should, but a daily focus on one meaningful interaction for Christ is the true difference maker. One friend, one family member, one co worker, one person at a time we want to see God moving our nation like we have never seen before. But it all starts with one. I’ve got my one. And now I’m challenging you and your church to join us and find yours, because ultimately, the only number that really matters is one. Who’s your one?
All right. Good morning, church. It’s good to be back with you this morning. I bring you greetings from Uganda. Our team spent two weeks in Kosoro, Uganda. We bring you greetings from Pastor George Mobonye, our partner there, and the many churches of Uganda.
And so I would ask you to be ready. I don’t know what time it is. I’m still a little jet lagged, so I might just keep preaching. We’ll see what happens here today. I want to give a shout out to J.D. Greer; Pastor J.D. Greer. We accept your challenge to begin a new series called, “Who’s Your One?” We appreciate him carrying the torch on this, having this idea of challenging the churches in America to say we’re called to reach the nations. We are called to reach the world. But it starts with one person.
So who’s your one? Imagine if every believer could answer that question. Who’s your one? The person that you are praying for and asking the Lord to give you an opportunity to share the gospel with. Who’s your one? Imagine a church where people aren’t so much concerned about the methodology as they are with having a white hot passion for reaching one person ,
Over the next five weeks, we’re going to keep asking ourselves, “Who’s your one?” Who are you praying for, that they would come to the kingdom? Someone who is far from God, that they would be brought near. Also, praying, “God, give me an opportunity to share the gospel with them. To talk to them about the love of Jesus so that they might come as they are and be forever changed by the love of Jesus.”
Now we’ve given you, in addition to your bulletin this morning, a prayer guide. Hold it up if you have it, I hope you have one. If you don’t have one, lift your hand and an usher will get one to you quickly. We have somebody down here who needs one. So make sure you have that. You should also have a bookmark stuck in there; we’re going to be talking about that a little bit later. So, hopefully, you have those and you can start tomorrow going through that daily prayer guide over the next 30 days. So we wanted to put those in your hands.
Now here’s the thing; every Christ follower surely knows this. You know that you’ve been called to share the gospel with the nations. Christ gave it to the disciples and therefore he gave us the great commission which says this, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I’ve commanded you and behold, I am with you always to the end of the age.” So every believer knows this. We know that were commanded to do this and surely as individuals and as a church, we are doing our best, with the Holy Spirit’s power, to do this, to take the good news to the nations, which is why I’m just returning now from Uganda were we take this very seriously.
But sometimes focusing on the many will cause us to forget the one. And I think it’s important to understand this; that God never does that. He never overlooks the one; He never overlooks the individual.
Remember the parable that Jesus gave in the book of Luke? So Jesus told them this story. If a man has 100 sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he finds it, he will be joyfully carried home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ And in the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away. And so God cares about the one, and so should we.
How do we reach the nations of the world with the gospel? May I say to you, we do it one life at a time, one person at a time , one life touching one other life.
Here’s some stats that I might give you about the church and about reaching people. Ed Stetzer says this, “Ultimately the research shows that relationships remain the most effective approach to those outside of the church, and that good marketing / advertising are a good support, but not enough on their own.” What really matters to seeing people come to Jesus is relationships to be in relationship with another person and to introduce them to the relationship we have with Jesus. Thom Rainier says this. He says, ‘Recent statistics state that 86% of people who visit a church were invited by a friend or relative.’ Now that’s still true. Today we have some people, maybe it’s you this morning, we call visitors who come via the internet. We call them Google guests. Maybe you are a Google guest, you googled our site and you decided to visit, but that still only represents a very small percentage of people who come to church. 86% are invited by a friend, but here’s a more troubling statistic. Only 2% of church people have invited an unchurched person to church; only 2%. And that’s a troubling statistic that we want to do something about because we believe that people far from God deserve to hear the gospel.
Now, there are many people here today. Many types of people here this morning. Maybe you’re visiting with us for the first time or maybe you’ve been coming for a while. I would say, first of all, if you’re here today and you’re checking this God thing out, we’re glad you’re here. I believe as you listen to this series and as you listen to this message today there’ll be something there for you because God is already looking for you, by the way. To those of you that are members of our church and you’ve been coming for a while. I believe that you’re called to be part of this series. And I hope you’ll make a point of being at every sermon, every service over these next few weeks.
Now I know what you may be thinking. You may be thinking, man, this stuff about talking about Jesus to other people just makes me a nervous wreck; this whole thing. Listen, I know he calls us to the ends of the earth, but I haven’t even talked to the people at the end of my street yet. And so it makes us nervous.
There are several barriers that people identify with when talking to other people about Jesus. One barrier that I often hear is it might be described as (1) Spiritual Lethargy. I’m just kind of lazy about it. I don’t actually think about it. I know I should I should be more passionate, but I’m not. I remember when I was on a summer project after my sophomore year in college. I was on a summer project with Campus Crusade and and I was praying every day with our director, our leader and some other guys, and I was praying what I thought was a good prayer. And I was praying, ‘God just break my heart for the lost.’ And I would pray that every day with my team and I felt like they were thinking probably that Gary’s a really spiritual guy; he wants God to break his heart for the lost. I was praying that. So after about a week of that, my director pulls me to the side; his name was Daniel. Daniel says to me, ‘Gary, I appreciate you keep asking God to break your heart for the lost, but do you know any lost people?’ He said, ‘If you’ll go introduce yourself and find out what they’re going through and all the hurts and hang ups that they have, your heart will break for the lost. Maybe you should stop praying and just go meet some people.’ Some of us are just not passionate because we’re just not friendly. We’re just not meeting people that are far from God. We’ve kind of turned inward, become part of the holy huddle called the church, and we need to look outward and God will give a spiritual power. Here’s another category of what I would call a barrier, and it’s (2) Believing the evil one’s lies. He says things like this; he whispers in my ear and says, ‘You’re not a very good speaker. You’re not very persuasive. You’re an introvert and you don’t like to talk to people. And so therefore, you don’t have to obey Christ command to talk to people about Jesus because he made you an introvert after all.’ So you’ve got a way out, right? Or the evil one would lie to you and say something like, ‘What if they ask you a question that you don’t know the answer?’ He gives you so many excuses, like witnessing can wait until later. You know, maybe next week or next year I can talk . And so he lies to us. And then (3) Lack of practical know how. I don’t know how to witness. We’re going to be talking about all of these barriers and how the Lord wants to overcome them during this series. In this series, we want to learn about how to follow God’s plan to share the Gospel with other people.
Let’s look at the book of Acts. In this story in the book of Acts, Luke the physician, who the Holy Spirit inspired to write this record of the early church, he brings us in chapter four with a story where Peter and John had been witnessing in the temple, and they had raised a crippled man up so that he could walk and they got in trouble for it. But then the leaders of the Jewish leaders let them go. And so here they are. They’re coming back to a prayer meeting that’s already in session, and now they redouble their prayers when they see Peter and John show up. As we look at this, I think we’ll see God’s plan for reaching our one. So let’s look at the text. Acts 4:23-31 (ESV) “23 When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, “‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? 26 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’ — 27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with theHoly Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.” This is God’s word.
We’re going to be looking for four steps to following Christ’s plan to be his witnesses, to follow God’s plan for reaching your one. Here is the first: (1) Pray for God’s preparation. All for these steps will be coming out of Acts 4:31. So I’m going to keep focusing and pointing us back to verse 31. Notice in the first part of Verse 31 it says, “and when they prayed…” That’s how they responded. When Peter and John were released from their trial before the Sanhedrin , the people prayed and look at how they prayed. As we’re looking here, they were reminded that God is the sovereign Lord over all things. He’s never stepped off the throne. He’s the king. They prayed that He’s the creator; they prayed the scripture back to God, By the way, that’s a pretty good thing to do is to pray God’s word back to Him and remind Him of His promises and to claim them for your own.
In verses 25 and 26, they’re praying the scriptures back to Him, and then they talk about how they’ve been threatened. But then they pray an unusual prayer. I I don’t know if I have prayed it like this; they said, “And Now, Lord, (Verse 29) look upon their threats.” You look upon their threats. Now, look, if I was being threatened, I’d be like, God, get me out of this. But that’s not what they pray. They said, You handle that; that’s your department. Yeah, here’s what we need help with . And they don’t pray for escape; that’s God’s department because He is sovereign. He is in charge. You knew you wrote in the Old Testament that this was going to happen. And now here it is happening. So you handle that. That’s your department. And so what do they pray for? Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness. That’s what they prayed; because You are sovereign and You’re in charge.
Even though we’re going through some challenges right now at work, at school, in my neighborhood, wherever, You handle that Lord. Handle my boss, handle my coworker handle my teacher, my professor, my next door neighbour. Lord, there’s threats coming my way. You, that’s your department. Here’s my department; I need help being bold with your work because you’ve called me to be a witness.
You’ve called me to make disciples and I say ‘Yes.’ Isn’t that where we’ve just been over the last four weeks? Pastor Stephen has led us through a four-part series, and I’m thankful, by the way, for the encouraging words that I’ve had since I’ve come back. Some of you have said I didn’t need to come back. I came back anyway. Sorry about that. They said he did a great job, and I know that he did. I’ve watched some of the sermons online, but he’s been talking over the last four weeks about putting your “Yes,” on the table. Right. And then don’t take it off. Leave it there.
I was at a men’s gathering yesterday morning, and one of the guys at my table said, “I’ve decided to glue my yes to the table so I don’t accidentally take it off.” If your “Yes ” is on the table following Jesus, then you can pray like this. You can pray, Lord, you handle these threats against us; the lies that are coming our way . You handle that. I say “Yes” to what you’ve commanded me to do, which is to share your word boldly with the people that are far from God. Prayer is not a footnote to evangelism. It is a priority. Prayer is not a footnote. It’s a starting place. If you’re going to share, its the plow that prepares the soil of the heart. Prayer. Pray for God’s preparation. Pray that their heart would be good soil. So when you get the opportunity to share the gospel, it’s receptive. So we pray. You maybe have talked to them and they weren’t very receptive. Pray. Pray that they’ll be receptive. Pray for their salvation, as Paul did for the Jews.
Look at Romans 10:1 (ESV) “ Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. He had a desire and he had a prayer that they would be saved. Do you have that? Have you got someone that you’re praying for? We’re asking you to write their name on that bookmark and pray for them every day for the next 30 days as you read God’s word. As we’ve given you this, we’ve given you tools so that you will pray for your one.
Looking back at the first of the year, we started filling this (container with cards) up and it should be full to the top, but the cards keep shrinking down into the bottom. I’ve shook this thing out two or three times and they keep nesting inside of each other. We need a better container next time we do this because I had a vision of this being full and overflowing. But every time we put them in there, they stick together. But there’s hundreds of them in there; blue cards that we’ve called impact cards, that we’ve written down the names of people that are far from God that we’re praying will come to Christ as we make room for more In our church. We are always making room for more. And as we’ve written these down, many of you’ve already come to me and said, “You know that name I wrote down in there that we’ve been praying for? They already believe in Christ. They came to Christ already since January.”
If your person on one of these cards has already come to Christ or if you’ve thought of somebody else, write your one down. And here’s what you’re doing when you write it down, you are going to pray for them every day for the next 30 days. Pray not only that the Lord would prepare their heart, but that the Lord would give me boldness. Look at how they prayed. So they didn’t just pray for boldness; verse 30, “while you stretch out your hand.” Lord, you go in front of me; Lord, you do a work in people’s lives. You perform powerful changes in people’s lives. You go in front of me because we’re in partnership with God . When you talk to somebody about Jesus, it’s not that God just now thought of them. He’s been trying to reach them ever since they were born.
Friend, If you’re here this morning and you’re checking out the God thing today. You’ve got some stuff going on in your life and you showed up at church today looking for help. I want you to know something. God’s been after you ever since you were born. And so when we go and share the gospel with somebody, when we tell them the good news, God is already there. And so join Him there. Stretch forth your hand, Lord, and perform miracles. And we ask for that; we pray like that. Pray that the Lord will open their hearts.
Look at Acts 16:14 (ESV) “One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.” Robin and I have had the privilege of being at that spot in the city called Phillippi, the ancient ruins of Philippi, and that river, it’s called the Krenides River. And we stood at the place where Paul preached and Lydia got saved and baptized, and it’s still there today. You know why it’s still there today because the stories in the Bible are not myth, they’re not made up. They are true you can go to the places where they exist. And so do the stories. The Lord opened her heart and she believed.
Pastor Doug Bannister describes praying for someone’s salvation like this. He calls it a prayer evangelism, “Prayer evangelism is praying for your neighbor’s needs and then joining the Father’s work in your neighbor’s life through radical acts of kindness and sharing the gospel story.” So think of it like this that sharing the gospel starts with prayer. It starts with prayer. You start praying now. How do you pray? I would pray like this, that I would cultivate a lifestyle of intentionally loving, serving and praying for people that are far from God. You might, just when you’re getting your walk in in your neighborhood, turn it into a prayer. Walk and pray for the people around your block or neighborhood .
Here are five suggested prayers, and we’ll go through them quickly that you might pray. You might pray this, (1) That God draws them to Himself. Just be walking along, pray “Lord, I pray you draw my neighbor to yourself.” (2) Pray that Satan will not be able to blind them so that they can see. Here’s number three: (3) Pray that the Holy Spirit would convict them of sin. (4) Pray that they will encounter God’s love and then finally (5) Pray that God will show you where He is already at work in your neighbor’s life so that you can tag in and join him there. Will you do it? Will you pray like that in your neighborhood? Watch out. Your house will turn into God’s lighthouse in that city.
Now here’s the second step. The first is to pray the second is (2) To look for God’s presence. Look for God’s presence. Remember I said that we were going to focus on Verse 31? We’ve already talked about when they prayed. Then what happened? The place in which they were gathered together was shaken. Now, if we had an earthquake here after we prayed that would shake us up pretty good, wouldn’t it? I’m not saying you should pray for an exact event just like this. God, I want you to have an earthquake for our building. You know, I’m not sure I want one of those.
When we first had our grand opening here, we first bought this old movie theater; the Regal Cinema. The week of our grand opening, we had a tornado that came through and just about blew us away . So I think that’s probably good enough. Welcome to the neighborhood, right? I’m not sure we need an earthquake, but I do believe that we should look for where God is shaking things up. We should look where God is at work. First, pray for your one and then ask God to show you where their foundation is shaking a little bit; where that person’s life has a need.Because that’s the very place where a person far from God will listen.
Well, how are you going to know that when you’re asking God to show you? Ask Him to show you His presence. Show you where He’s already at work; where the father is already at work. Do you think it’s your idea to go looking for your one? Jesus is the one who left heaven for that one. And so he’s already at work. So get on board with what the father is already doing.
I was talking to some men yesterday morning and we asked the question, “Who who are you praying for? Who are you hoping to see come to Jesus?” I was at the old man’s table; I don’t know what happened. You know, they say you attract who you are so probably that’s what happened. But several men were praying for their kids and grandkids.One person even expressed, “I’m not sure I did the best job as a father, but I want to do a better job now as a grandfather at telling them about Jesus. I want my grandkids to know Jesus.” And I was just like, “I’m gonna pray with you, brother. I agree with that prayer will you pray for me too. Because I got a whole bunch of pagan grandkids too.” The Bible says so. All of us are sinners, far from God without Jesus. And so I think we got eight of them and two of them have have confessed Jesus. We’re waiting on the other six. Please pray for us that we can talk to them about Jesus. But not just them; we’re looking for where God is at work in all those around us.
After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. Remember this story in the Book of Exodus? Where were Moses is talking to God, and God is basically saying, ‘Listen, you people are not obeying me. Just go on to the promised land; I’m not going with you’ and it scares Moses to death. And he prays like this. Moses says to Him, ‘If Your presence does not go with us, do not send us.’ I agree with that prayer, don’t you? I don’t want to go alone. Lord, if your presence doesn’t go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us, what else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth. And the Lord said to Moses, ‘I will do the very thing you have asked because I’m pleased with you.’
How will the world know that there’s anything different about you? How will your one that you are writing on that card this morning know there’s anything different about you? There won’t be anything different about you if you don’t invite the presence of the Lord to shake you up and to shake them up. Then, know this, they will recognize that there’s something that distinguishes you from others and they will ask you questions, ‘What’s up with you? Why are you so full of joy?’ ‘I just try to be, you know, I just I’m an optimist. You know, my cup is half full rather than half empty.’ Don’t give him that lame stuff. Tell him where your joy comes from. It’s the joy of the Lord. What? Yeah, they’re going to ask you questions because the presence of God is in your life. Look for that because God is already at work.
Look what Jesus said in John Chapter five, He says, “I tell you the truth. The son can do nothing by himself. He can only do what he sees his father doing, because whatever the father does, the son also does.” If it’s good enough for Jesus, friends, it’s good enough for me. He says, ‘I only do what I see the father doing, and then I join him there.’ So we are to pray for that neighbor, for that grandchild, for that son, that daughter, that mom, that Dad, that brother, that…. We are to pray for them by name.
And then we’re looking for where God is shaking up their life and then we join Him there. I can’t remember all of my D days, but I used to have a list of D Day events that I would watch for because that’s when a person’s really receptive to hearing the gospel. D days, like when you have a D day like a baby delivery; that’s a D day. All of a sudden you’ve got a crying baby. Where’s God? People want to know. Delivery, divorce, brokenness, hurt, disease, bad news from the doctor, displacement where you get moved by your job and get transferred somewhere else and you don’t have any friends, death, someone you loves dies… D day events.
I’m not saying you should pray that God gives somebody a D day. I’m not saying that. I’m just saying, God, you move and that’s up to you, God, what you do. I’m gonna be looking for it; for you to shake up their life and I want to be there to meet their need in Your name so You get the credit.
In the Old Testament, you know, the Ark of the Covenant represented God’s glory and presence with the people of Israel. So whenever they were going to battle,they would send the Ark first, and wherever the ark went, that represented the throne of God, and it represented His presence with His people , and it represented His glory. The Hebrew word for glory is “abode.” In fact, the word for no glory if the glory departs is Ichabod, no glory. And that word can also be translated weight or heavy because God’s presence is heavy. It’s full of glory. It fills the room. We ask for God’s presence to come on somebody. It comes on like glory. It comes on heavy. So we’re asking for Him to move. And we’re asking, you see, because God’s presence makes Christianity credible, you can talk about all this stuff, But when his presence moves and it shakes them up, it backs up what you’re saying. It gives the gospel weight; it makes the gospel heavy when you speak it. What’s the father already doing in the life of your one? The one that even now, as I’m talking, you’re sitting there, going, ‘Who is it?’ And most of you already know who it is, the one the gods put on your heart to reach that’s far from God that you’re supposed to throw a lifeline.
Here’s number three. (3) Depend on God’s power. This is the third step for how we can carry the gospel, how we can reach the one that God has given us. Look at verse 31 again; when they prayed, there’s prayer, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken. There’s presence, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit came upon them in power. He empowered them. Listen, when you are filled with the spirit, you have a heart for what the spirit has a heart for. If you’re filled with the spirit, now, listen to be filled with the spirit. It’s not like you run out. The spirit doesn’t leave you. To be filled means to be under His control, under His influence.
Remember, in Ephesians 5:18 it says, “Do not be drunk with wine, which leads to dissipation but instead be filled with the spirit.” In other words, he says, don’t be under the influence of alcohol. Instead, be under the influence of the spirit. That’s what it means to be filled with the spirit. It means to be under the Holy Spirit’s influence, under his control, his empowerment. The Holy Spirit came upon them and they had the power to act for God.
If you’re a believer, you have the Holy Spirit abiding within you. But you must appropriate that power. In other words, you must depend on Him instead of your own strength, your own wisdom. Depend on him. Does the Holy Spirit want your one to come to Him? You better believe it. You better believe it. Oh, He wants your one way more than you do and so appropriate his power. We need to get serious about this. And that’s what this is about.
This series over the next five weeks, these 30 days of prayer for one person, everyone in this room praying for their one. What’s going to happen? I believe revival is going to break out in our city. I believe it’s going to break out because each of us has work. It’s one thing to pray for the world.
I remember when my kids were small. I was trying to teach them how to pray and my oldest, (who preached for the last four Sundays but unfortunately, his daddy’s back now and I tell stories about him when he was a little kid. This is what he’s used to. So don’t feel sorry for him. He’s used to it.) When he was little, I’d say son, you need to pray. Confess your sins. Well, here’s his daddy, you know, looming over him in his bed. He’s thinking, if I confessed my sins that man right there is going to give me a spanking, you know? So he thought it through, a smart kid, so he would pray. And I said, ‘you need to pray for people to get saved, you know, people that are your friends at school. So this was his prayer at five years old. He says, “Lord, (because I told him to be more specific) Lord, forgive me all my sins, especially those that I forgot that I did today and save all the people in the world.” Now, those are good prayers but they’re pretty general. And if God answers them, you might not even notice because they’re so general. But it was a pretty good start. He was learning how to pray, right?
Here’s what I’m saying to you. Pray for your one. Pray for that one. Pray every day, write their name down. If I write their name down, then I’m making a commitment. I know how much I am supposed to pray. Pray that the Lord will shake their life up and that He will be presence and then pray that the Holy Spirit will empower you and give you the moment This (this the part that’s making us nervous but go ahead.) Give me the moment where I will share the gospel with that person that the spirit will fill me so that I can see when the time is right when I’m supposed to do it, how I’m supposed to do it. It says, “But you will receive power.” This is Jesus speaking to his disciples, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you’ll be my witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.” So He’s basically saying to go back to Jerusalem and wait and pray. And when you get power, then go be my witnesses. Don’t get that out of order. You’re not witnessing in your own strength. And what do you witness about? You’re witnessing to what God has done for you. You’re the worldwide expert on you, right? So do that. And so, He says, “be filled with the spirit.” Then you’ll be my witnesses. Start at home Jerusalem and then go out to the larger neighborhood, into the world and to the people on the other side of the tracks. The people in Samaria. But start with your one. Your Jerusalem.
We were in Uganda for the past two weeks. It’s seven hours later in the day there now they’ve already had church. They’re already going into the evening and my body, and some of the people on the team, probably can feel kind of similar like, what time of the day is it anyway? I It takes a few days to get back on track from jet lag. If you want to come tonight, we’ll tell you a lot of Uganda stories and we’ll promise not to bore you. We’ve made a beautiful video that will summarize this story. I hope you’ll come. But you know, I was preaching every day. I got an opportunity to preach to different churches and different groups every day. They keep us busy, but probably some of the most memorable moments where in between where I’m sitting at a coffee shop trying to pay for Internet time so I can send you a photo or an update, and the power is spotty and power goes off and on. I’m sitting here in a coffee shop and this guy walks by with a bunch of Batwa people. Batwa are the little people who used to live in the jungle with the mountain gorillas but they’ve been displaced by the government and have been removed from their ancestral lands. So now they’re down in the city, and a lot of them are addicted to a lot of things, and as a result, they’re not used to living in the city. Some play music and sing. They love Robin, by the way, they’re attracted to her every time they see her. When the band shows up,Robin, you know, if you know Robin, she can’t say no to anybody. And so they give her a little performance every time she’s around. But I saw somebody while going by with the little Batwa band that got homemade instruments and they’re trying to get some money and then this big tall guy with them. We spot each other, two white guys. So I see this guy and he comes over and he goes, ”Hey , dude.” I said, “What’s your name?” He goes, “ Eduardo, my father was in Mexico, and my mother.” So I ask, “What are you doing here?” He replies, “I’m hanging out with the Batwa.” And so I start talking this guy like every other day, He would just show up and talk to me and one day he asks, “So are you a preacher? You’re like a preacher or something, right?” I said, “Yeah, I am just like that. Just like a preacher.” He says to me, “Your Jesus, I heard that he went to India and they taught him magic. And that’s how He did the miracles, you know?” And I said, “ “ “Edward, you told me you read the Bible.” “Why, Yeah, man, I read the Bible.” I said, “You’re trying to pull my chain.” I said, “I see the kingdom in your eyes And you know that Jesus is the son of God, saviour and lord of the world. You know, he didn’t go to India. You know the truth.” So he scooted on away. So pray for Eduardo. Like every other day, we talked to him, and he’s just a wandering soul. I don’t know what he’s doing in Africa, but he’s there. I left him with George; we will see what George does with him.
I met another woman one morning. I am at the coffee shop; that’s my in between hang out. This woman, she said, “This is my 100th country. She was another “Mozingo”: tall, blonde, really white lady. And I said, “What are you doing here?” And she says, “This is my 100th country.” Wow, that’s a lot. That’s amazing. “Yeah, you know, I’ve been through, like , three passports.” And so we’re sitting there talking and she’s talking about, you know, what are you doing? I said, “Well, we’re here working with someone, visiting churches and talking to people about God. By the way, what do you think about God?” “Oh, so we’re going there,” she said. I said, “Yeah, we are. That’s where we’re going.” I came all the way from America so I might as well stay there and she says, “Well, I’m lds, church of latter day Saints, so stay away from me.” You know what? That’s what she said. But we kept talking to her. Eduardo said the same thing, but a different word. “Yeah, man, I’m spiritual.” I said, “So what does that mean? Like, who do you worship?” “I don’t worship anybody. I’m just spiritual.” Edward. Pray for him.
So if you get out there and have these conversations and encounter people that are far from God, and then your heart breaks for them and then they put up stop signs. Here’s me. I’m already gone. That lady’s on to her 101th country. Now Eduardo is who knows where now, right? But it’s not my job to save them because if it were I would feel like a failure because I shared my faith with both of them and they didn’t pray the prayer. And so I left, perhaps feeling like I failed if I allowed myself to. But that’s not my job. My job is to speak the word of God boldly. I can’t save anybody. I can’t save myself. I needed Jesus to do that. My job is to tell it. Just tell it, speak the word like a seed and then pray for God to do his work.
God wants to make you a vehicle of his power and grace sharing his gospel, which leads us to the fourth step,(4) Proclaim God’s gospel. Remember the verse 31 is the key verse here . The prayed for presence.. They were shaken by the power by the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. That’s what they prayed for, and that’s what they kept doing in the church. Just kept growing.
What is the gospel? Paul gives a definition in 1st Corinthians, chapter 15. It says, “ 1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved… 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. That’s our job, right? It was passed to him like a baton, and he’s passing it forward, running the race of faith. What’s our job? To tell people that the son of God Jesus Christ came to earth and died on a cross for our sins and that we’re all sinners. He died first and on the third day, after being buried , he was raised to new life. And he lives today and he wants to live in you, my friend. That’s the gospel. That’s the good news that God is no longer counting our sins against us when we believe in Jesus. That’s the good news. It’s a simple message, but it’s a powerful message. Are you prepared?
1 Peter 3:15 (NIV84) But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. Always be prepared because you’ve been praying for your one. You’ve been asking God to shake him up and you’re looking for His presence. You’ve asked Him to empower you. What’s gonna happen? They’re going to ask you for the hope, the living hope that we sang about a minute ago. They’re going to ask you why you have such hope . Be prepared to tell her Jesus died for me. I’m forgiven. He didn’t just die. He was buried for me. And he was raised on the third day and today lives, and maybe he wants to live in you. You could do that. You can do that through the power of Jesus. And some people will believe and some people it will just sort of sit on them for a little while and they’ll believe with the next person that talks to him. Because it’s not our job to save people. It’s God’s job. So don’t be worried about what or how you’ll do it. The spirit will speak. Remember what Jesus told his disciples? Don’t worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time, you’ll be given what to say for it will not be you speaking but the spirit of your father speaking through you.
Have you ever experienced that? How long have you been a believer? You’d ask yourself How long? How long have you followed Jesus ? Have you ever experienced that moment when the Holy Spirit is speaking through you and a person is listening? Have you ever been there? Oh, my friend, you’re denying yourself the very thing for which you were built and that’s to worship and declare the Lord Jesus to this world. Have you ever felt the Holy Spirit speaking through you like, ‘I can’t believe I said that. Where did that come from? All I had to do is get my mouth going in the right direction.’ Your mouth’s already going, but sometimes it’s not going in the right direction but get it going in the right direction talking about Jesus. Don’t deny yourself that for which you were built.
Dr. Bill Bright, who is with the Lord now, was the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ. I heard him speak many times when I was a young man. I still remember this definition he gave “Success in witnessing is simply taking the initiative. Share Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results to God.” It’s all up to God anyway. It’s all up to God anyway. Pray, look for his presence, walk in his power and share the gospel proclaim the gospel and then God does all the work.
As I’ve said many times, I’m just your paper boy. I just throw the good news up on your front porch, whether you open it or not is up to you and God. The truth is that all of us at one time were someone’s “one.” All of us at one time were God’s “one.” And then He assigned somebody. Maybe it was a grandmother, a mother, a father, a brother, a sister, a preacher who knows who it was. You know who it was that told you about Jesus. And you were their “one,” because all of us at one time went astray. As a says, “all we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned every one to his own way and the iniquity of the Lord is laid on him.” on Jesus, the iniquity of us all.
Have you received Christ as your saviour and Lord? Are you the one that Jesus wants to reach today? I want to give you an opportunity to receive him in just a moment. Be prepared to respond. He’s looking for you. He left the 99 to find you. And if you’re already a Christ follower, are you the one that the Lord is seeking today to reach your one the one he’s assigned unto you. If so, when you commit, you’ll see a flier in your bulletin to attend the next five sermons to do the 30 day devotional to write down the name of your one on here and pray for him every day. Lord prepare the heart of the one you are praying for here and believe the Gospel and give me the opportunity to share it with him and to attend a weekly community group. We have groups that made in homes throughout the week . If you’re not part of one, sign up. We’ll let you know of some available groups near you on a night you can attend. We have meeting many nights, but get in the group and pray together for your one. We can do it. The Lord has given us this plan. Pray that you’ll see their hearts prepared, look for His presence, do it in the power of the Holy Spirit and then proclaim the gospel.
Let’s pray Lord, thank you for your word. Thank you that you are faithful. Lord, I pray first of all for the person that’s here this morning, my friend, you came here today and you’ve been having a D day. You might have had a couple this week and you came in on a thread. And I pray for you first that you would believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. You could do it right in your seat. Right now, you can express your faith through prayer, just talking to God. You can pray with me right now . “Dear Lord Jesus, I’m a sinner; I need a Savior. I believe you died on the cross for my sins that you were raised on the third day and that you live today. Come and live in me. Make me a child of God. Forgive me of my sins. I want you to be my lord and savior.” Others are here today. You know Jesus as your lord and savior. But you haven’t been sharing the gospel with others. You have your reasons. Doesn’t matter what they are. It’s disobedience. Would you confess it right now? Say “Lord, forgive me that I get selfish and forget about the world around me or help me to get a new passion and a new fire today. And I write down the name of the one that you’ve put on my heart today. And Lord, I’m praying that you will prepare their hearts to hear the gospel and prepare me for the moment to share it.” We pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.