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Ambassadors: Help them see Jesus : Part 2

So many need to hear about Jesus. Pray for them and for the opportunity to share Jesus with them.  

Kenneth L. Brokmeier 

“Prayer changes things!”  

Go ahead! Google “phrases about prayer.” You quickly can find yourself immersed for hours sifting through the sites, uncovering little snippets about prayer. Some excerpts are authored by well-known believers like Martin Luther, and other quotes are by those who aren’t even Christian.  

Prayer is an important part of our calling as Christ’s disciples. We pray because we are connected to Jesus. But like so many other facets of our Christian life, sometimes prayer can seem almost non-existent . . . until crunch time. You know what I mean. Suddenly there is trouble! That’s when we take God’s invitation to call upon him (Psalm 50:15) rather seriously. 

Those on the wrong road 

Well, there is trouble out there right now. There is a whole world without Christ, and they on the broad road that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13). Jesus knew it. He described them as harassed and helpless—sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36)—people misled by the lies and philosophies of the world and, sometimes, even the church. Before his very eyes were souls who were still looking for answers because their own solutions always brought the same dead-end results. Jesus had compassion on them because they didn’t even realize their great need. They had numbed themselves into thinking that there is no God or that Jesus can’t be God’s answer.  

The years and the faces may have changed, but the problem is still there. It’s not just on the other side of our planet but right in our own families, friends, and neighbors. It is on the campuses and classrooms of not just colleges, but all levels of education. Do you see them? The sheep? Sheep who think they know better, even though they were once Jesus’ little lamb. Sheep who are wearing the glitter and glitz of their own self-righteousness. Sheep who think they have all the answers to life’s questions because of their education. Sheep who are quick to tell you to your face you are foolish for following your Good Shepherd. Sheep. And all of them are unaware they are lost because they don’t have the heavenly Shepherd named Jesus. What’s a person to do?  

Listen to Jesus. Pray! That is what Jesus tells his disciples to do—pray, literally beg the Lord to send out more workers.  

Our prayers as God’s ambassadors 

But wait! Are you ready for this? Jesus instructs his disciples to pray for more workers and then he sends those same disciples out as those workers (Matthew 10). When we pray, he sends us out as his workers. 

Knowing that we are the answer to our own prayer leads us to pray more fervently and zealously to the Lord, “Help!” And he does. We have examples from Scripture of ambassadors praying to the One they represent for help. Look at Daniel (chapter 6). Daniel knew the king’s decree that anyone who prayed—except to the king—would be thrown into the den of lions. Yet Daniel continued to pray to God three times a day, just as he had done before. I can imagine Daniel begging God to be with him so he could testify boldly when he stood before the king. God answered Daniel’s prayer.  

Paul and Silas prayed (Acts 16:25). They had just been beaten and locked up, and yet they prayed and sang hymns. Can’t you just picture Paul begging God to open doors for the spread of the gospel? God answered Paul’s prayer. He not only opened the prison doors but also the heart of the jailer to believe in the Lord Jesus!  

God also promises to answer our prayers as his ambassadors. So pray! Ask boldly that God will give you wisdom so that you may know him better and trust his incomparably great power that is at work in you (cf. Ephesians 1:17-22).  

When you pray, trust that God will keep his promises that he will never leave or forsake you (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5) when you are called upon to witness.  

Pray dangerously. Challenge or beg that God would permit your life and the life of the one for whom you are praying to intersect so that you can be God’s ambassador. Then look for God to open those doors to encounter others with whom you can share the news of Jesus. Most of all, be ready to walk through those doors when he opens them!  

Pray with urgency. After all, billions are still in the state of spiritual darkness or unbelief. Scripture clearly teaches that if they remain and die in that state, their destiny is more than just darkness. It is the eternal misery, pain and suffering of hell, where “their worm that eats them will not die, the fire that burns will not be quenched” (Isaiah 66:24).  

Our personal connections 

Sometimes that sense of urgency can wane, can’t it? We don’t always picture the mass of humanity on the other side of the world who are hellbound without Christ. After all, we are busy with our lives of tweeting, texting, or updating our status on Facebook with the latest picture of what we deem to be important.  

But then it hits us. A friend. Someone with whom we have broken bread at many meals. Someone with whom we went to Lutheran grade school and high school. Slowly they have stopped coming to church. Or they head off to college and we lose touch and, before you know it, they are caught in the web of ungodly philosophies.  

Or it might be a family member—a parent, sibling, child, niece, or nephew. “What happened?” we ask ourselves. We might, humanly speaking, know the answer. But, more important, we know the solution: Jesus, Jesus, only Jesus!  

So pray! Because “prayer changes things.”  

My family knows this to be true.  

There were six children in my family growing up. We all had received the blessings of a Christian upbringing, including attending a Lutheran grade school and high school. But something happened, spiritually, with my brother. He made poor choices and drifted, slowly but surely, away from his Savior.  

Those who loved him—his parents, siblings, relatives, pastors, and teachers—spoke words of concern, warning him he was on that broad road. He would often respond— sometimes saying the right things—but his actions were also speaking, unfortunately, louder than his words. The drifting continued.  

Those who loved him prayed for him. We prayed boldly. We prayed dangerously. We prayed with urgency!  

God answered . . . with an accident. An accident that suddenly found my brother teetering between life and death. An accident that would leave him needing care 24 hours per day for the nearly 16 years remaining in his life. But, most important, God answered our prayers with an accident that opened the heart of his blood-bought child to once more hear, believe, and completely trust that Jesus is the only Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). 

And so, as his ambassadors, we pray!


Ken Brokmeier is pastor at Our Savior’s, Brookings, South Dakota.  


This is the second article in a 12-part series on sharing your faith. 


What’s your story? How have you shared Jesus? Every encounter is different, and we want to hear your stories. To whom in your life did you reach out? What barriers did you have to overcome? How do you prepare yourself for these outreach opportunities? E-mail responses tofic@wels.netwith the subject line: How I shared Jesus. Include your name, congregation, and contact information. Questions? Call 414-256-3231. 


SUBMIT YOUR STORY

Do you have a manuscript, idea, or story from your own life you’d like to share for use in Forward in Christ or on wels.net? Use our online form to share it to our editorial office for consideration.

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Author: Kenneth L. Brokmeier
Volume 105, Number 12
Issue: December 2018

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2018
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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Ambassadors: Help them see Jesus

When we defend our faith, we have to be ready. We must study the Word. 

Jonathan P. Bilitz 

“You always go back to the Bible. I like that,” Dylan said as he plopped himself on a chair in my office for the third time that week. He wandered into our building a few months earlier, and we formed a friendship. Through our visits, one thing had become glaringly obvious: Dylan hungered to hear about Jesus’ love for him. 

Dylan expressed a frustration with his church. He felt organized religion let him down. He had been raised in a religious system where rules needed to be followed and threats for disobedience were real. He felt stifled by the rules and concluded that he was a complete failure. He needed help. He needed hope. He needed truth. The purpose and meaning of life became his quest. He needed Jesus. 

I panicked a bit about what to say. Do I defend the merit of belonging to a church and ease his discomfort with organized religion, or do I explain to him the errors of his previous church body? I decided to do neither but to read through Ephesians 2:1-10 with Dylan. He posed many questions. He listened. We read over some of the verses again. He wanted to hear again especially verses 8,9: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Those words led Dylan to an eye-opening conclusion. “So,” he said to me, “living a good life doesn’t save me?” 

Dylan and I have conversed many times in the year or so since that meeting. We read the Bible together. I pray for him. He asks questions and tells me what he thinks a verse from the Bible means. He even came to church a few times. He still is not sure that he is ready to commit to join another church, but he enjoys hearing again and again the good news about Jesus. He visits me to confess his sins, because he yearns to be told he is forgiven in the blood of Jesus. He often remarks how free he feels because he is required to do nothing to be saved. Jesus has done it all. 

The Bible and the Holy Spirit 

It may have been our third meeting when he brought his Bible along with him. He had been reading it and had some questions on things he was reading. I thought that was amazing! Why? I’m not sure. We never want to underestimate the power of God’s Word. That Word changes hearts. It changes lives. It never returns to God empty but accomplishes what he desires and achieves the purpose for which he sent it (cf. Isaiah 55:11). God had provided me a front-row seat to watch the Spirit go to work in this young man’s heart. He did that work, not through my words, but through the Bible’s message. 

“You always go back to the Bible,” Dylan said as I tried to find a section in Scripture that answered his questions. His words were a revelation to me—a sudden sincere comment I had taken for granted. I had shared the gospel with him, and it was not just human opinion. The message had divine origin. 

That’s the Bible—the God-breathed words that give life and salvation. The Word is the way God reveals himself and his will to us in this world. The Bible delivers vital information that is found nowhere else. What God highlights in his Word is Jesus. He enlightens us to see Jesus as the way to be saved. The apostles said it this way: “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12 Evangelical Lutheran Heritage [EHV]). Yes, what the Bible contains is grace, the promise of forgiveness and eternal life through Jesus and his cross even when—especially when—we fail.  

Dylan’s hunger for the life-giving gospel brought him into our building. God did the rest through his Word. He filled the emptiness with God’s love. He replaced fear with trust, and despair with hope. That’s the power of the Word. That’s the power of grace. Human words are no replacement for the message of Scripture. 

To our world, wisdom is not found in the cross, but in the intellect of human beings. “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing” (1 Corinthians 1:18). Maybe we fall victim to that trap more often than we care to admit. “If only I could say the right words . . . If only I could come up with the best arguments.” We don’t have to come up with the best defense. God does not require us to craft the finest sounding arguments. The gospel is the power of God for the salvation of all who believe (cf. Romans 1:16). 

Release the lion 

Charles Spurgeon, a 19th-century preacher, compared the Bible to a lion. To defend a lion, you simply need to let it out of its cage. So it is with the Bible. Spurgeon, when asked about defending his faith, offered his advice this way: “Many suggestions are made, and much advice is offered. This weapon is recommended, and then another. Pardon me if I offer a quiet suggestion. Open the door and let the lion out; he will take care of himself. Why, they are gone! He no sooner goes forth in his strength than his assailants flee. The way to meet infidelity is to spread the Bible. The answer to every objection against the Bible is the Bible.” 

That quote illustrates an important lesson when we consider defending our faith. We have the perfect defense: God’s own words. The apostle Paul told the Corinthians, “For even though we walk in the flesh, we do not wage war in the way the sinful flesh does. Certainly, the weapons of our warfare are not those of the flesh, but weapons made powerful by God for tearing down strongholds. We tear down thoughts such as all arrogance that rises up against the knowledge of God, and we make every thought captive so that it is obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 EHV).  

When sharing with others the hope that we have, our greatest weapon is being grounded in the Bible, the source of truth. Study the Word. Continue to be a student of the Bible. Grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus. In your own heart, set apart Jesus as Lord. When it comes to answering questions, find comfort that it is not based on your own ideas but on what our Mighty God has revealed in the Bible. 

“You always go back to the Bible.” May God bless us through his Word so that others who listen to the truth about Jesus from us recognize the Bible as the source of all blessings—especially forgiveness for sin and the sure hope of eternal life. 


Jon Bilitz is campus pastor at Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel, Madison, Wisconsin.  


This is the first article in a 12-part series on sharing your faith. 


What’s your story? How have you shared Jesus? Every encounter is different, and we want to hear your stories. To whom in your life did you reach out? What barriers did you have to overcome? How do you prepare yourself for these outreach opportunities? E-mail responses tofic@wels.netwith the subject line: How I shared Jesus. Include your name, congregation, and contact information. Questions? Call 414-256-3231. 


SUBMIT YOUR STORY

Do you have a manuscript, idea, or story from your own life you’d like to share for use in Forward in Christ or on wels.net? Use our online form to share it to our editorial office for consideration.

SUBSCRIBE TO FORWARD IN CHRIST

Get inspirational stories, spiritual help, and synod news from  Forward in Christ every month. Print and digital subscriptions are available from Northwestern Publishing House.

 

Author: Jonathan P. Bilitz
Volume 105, Number 11
Issue: November 2018

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2018
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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