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Power to Witness

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By Jack Tanner

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But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8).

What is the power and the language of this new kingdom? Since the kingdom does not come by observation, there must be some identifying marks that separate it from the fraudulent and deceitful systems that engulf the unwary.

POWER TO REPRODUCE

One of the identifying marks of the early church was the power to reproduce. Jesus sowed the seeds of the new kingdom for more than three years. These seeds were broadcast liberally and took root in some unexpected places. They started to grow in the hearts of people like the Samaritan woman, Zacchaeus, and Mary Magdalene. Jesus’ teaching had little effect on some of the more “religious,” pretentious people, but for those who opened their hearts, the seeds began to grow and to become fruitful.

It is the devil’s business to destroy the “witness potential” of all believers. Most people do not realize the effect of one person’s life upon another. Suppose a person won a soul to Christ each month, and his converts each won this amount. An entire city could be won to God in five years.

First year:        One person wins 12 = 13 Second year: 13 win 156

Third year:       156 win 1872

Fourth year: 1872 win 22,464

Fifth year:       22,464 win 269,568

If the devil can interrupt this pyramid of souls at the beginning, he has destroyed the power of growth and the potential to reach every soul with the gospel.

It is not our job to determine the types of soils we think would be most productive. We are to sow the seed. Who are the sowers? In the parable of the sower as recorded in Matthew 13, the sower is not identified by his personality, special ability, or station in life. It states, Behold, a sower went forth to sow He had seed in his hand and went forth to scatter the seed. We might have easily disqualified people like Zacchaeus and Mary Magdalene since they did not fit the image of the mature kingdom person.

The sowers are simply the people to whom God has given the seed. If we have been given the truth, it is for the purpose of sowing. By sowing the truth, we do not bury it in the ground to destroy it. When it is planted, cultivated, and watered, God brings forth the increase. The only way truth can be destroyed is if we refuse to plant it.

The command to preach the gospel to every creature is an emphatic dogma that must be practiced or the fruit of the would-be sower will dry up and wither. Is it possible to hide the light of God under a bushel and still retain the light? The light will automatically be extinguished due to the lack of oxygen. The only way to retain what God has given is to give it away. If we attempt to save our lives, we will lose them. If we hold our witness, we will soon have nothing to witness about.

If we are to present hands full of sheaves, they first must be the hands of the sower. We will not always sow; someday we will reap what we have sown. If we present to God only the seed He gave us, we will be like the one given a talent by his master with no return on the investment. We must not regard the weather nor wait for what we consider the appropriate time. The command is to sow the seed!

THE SEED AND THE SOIL

God created the seed and soil and labeled them good. The seed has not changed, but some of the soil has become hard, dry, and unproductive. One purpose for Jesus using the parable of the sower was to teach us to sow liberally regardless of the circumstances. He also taught that all seed will not grow and mature equally, but that should not hinder the sowing process. The principal meaning of the parable is to sow, sow, sow. God will give the increase. We may look on the outside appearance, which does not always seem favorably inclined to the gospel, but God can see a spark of life waiting to be nourished.

Conditions and poor soil are not reasons for refusing to sow. We are poor judges of what effect the seed will have on lives of people since the Word can make new creatures of the old. Let us then use our hands as God intended, to sow the seed. If the sun withers the tender plant, we should not become discouraged but rather go into plan P, prayer. Sometimes our best intentions get misunderstood and bring confusion instead of harmony; God can add His support to implement the truth.

THE VINE AND THE BRANCHES

Jesus taught that He is the vine and we are the branches. The vine is the source of life and power while the branches are the outreach that bear the fruit. If most of the branches are cut off, the vine will grow more branches. The branches are important but not indispensable.

The power received through the Holy Ghost is God’s avenue of feeding the branches. This power gives life to the branches to flourish and support a fruitful, victorious life, which is the prerequisite for witnessing. To be an effective witness, we must have first conquered the enemies of our soul before we can direct others in their conquest. To witness, we must have something to witness about.

Jesus was not only the vine; He spent much time being the branch. He was fruitful and He sowed during His entire ministry. His disciples questioned the seed He sowed and His selection of soils. The disciples thought children should be placed low on Jesus’ priority list and they, the disciples, should be honored for their obedience to “follow me.”

BECOME AS LITTLE CHILDREN

Jesus said, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me (Matthew 18:3-5). The King hath spoken!

The attitude of the disciples needed more than a little light to shine in their direction. Jesus said, Except ye he converted. The deep resentment in the hearts of Jesus’ disciples, at His spending time on a child, needed repentance that would turn them 180 degrees. Sometimes an older con-vert outgrows his usefulness and must return to becoming a little child.

CAST YOUR BREAD

Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days. Give a portion to seven, and also to eight; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth. if the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth: and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree .falleth, there it shall be. He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap (Ecclesiastes 11:1-4).

Witnessing may seem to be a waste of time and effort that can be used better for more pressing matters. The ex-ample of casting your bread upon the waters is an extreme demonstration of faith. “Throwing away” your time and re-sources for what seems to be a hopeless cause must be under the direction of the Holy Ghost to be fruitful.

Some things happen that we cannot predict, nor can we do anything about them. A tree falls, and we cannot raise it back in place. This must be taken in stride as we go on. The text gives the illustration of a tree falling to the north or the south, opposite directions. One direction is our past life, and the opposite is our future. We have experienced falling trees in the past that are now beyond our ability to help. They must be forgotten or put aside for us to effectively face the future. Maybe there was a lesson to be learned that can be helpful in the future as we face other obstacles. Life is uncertain in the best of times.

Conditions are not often perfect for sowing. Past problems or failures must be put to one side as we face the elements to sow. Step over the fallen tree, fill your hand with seed, and get busy. He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap.

There is a time for sowing. It is now! If we regard all of the negative aspects that could affect the sowing process, we will never sow the seed. There will never be a perfect time. The time is short, the night is falling, and if we expect to reap, we must first sow.

THE SOWER IS ALSO A REAPER

But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver (II Corinthians 9:6-7).

God is a giver. He is a giver of physical life and spiritual life, giver of our next breath, and giver of sunlight and spiritual light. He is the giver of water and spiritual water (Holy Ghost). He is a giver of Himself as our Savior and soon coming King.

The Lord loves to give good gifts to His people, and He wants us to have the same giving spirit. Sowing is for our benefit. If we are friendly, we will receive many friends. By sowing faith, we receive renewed faith, but the opposite is also true. If we sow doubt, we will receive doubt.

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that sow-eth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let its not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not (Galatians 6:7-9).

This is sowing season. Reaping may not come until we get to heaven, so do not become weary in well doing. “Due season” is the time only God knows. We must now pray, Give its this day our daily bread (Matthew 6: 1 1). Today we need a day’s supply of strength so we may be productive in God’s kingdom. Tomorrow, God will give us our daily supply according to our needs for that day.

Jesus fed the five thousand from one boy’s lunch. He did not say a prayer that produced a mountain of fish and bread, but He divided the boy’s lunch among His disciples to pass to the hungry multitude. Each time they broke off a piece of bread and a portion of fish, they had enough left for the next hungry soul. It required faith for the disciples to go from one person to the next with only a handful of food.

The manna God supplied to the children of Israel in the wilderness was only a day’s supply except on the day prior to the Sabbath. In our receiving, God would also like to increase our faith as He supplies our needs.

God does not want us to live on stale bread. He wants to give us a fresh supply every day. This will guarantee a spirit that can both receive and give.

Natural food is important to sustain life, but more important is spiritual food, which will not only sustain us but also increase our awareness of the present spiritual needs of the people whom God has placed in our hands.

Our spiritual life should go beyond our personal needs. Yes, we need power to overcome temptations, to make right decisions, and to finish the race. Some start the race strong but do not keep up their spiritual strength. We must stay “in condition” by eating the right foods, exercising our faith, and bettering our time beyond our past performance.

POWER USED OR MISUSED

Power misused can destroy. Nuclear power can be used to generate electricity or it can destroy the world. The Holy Ghost is a creative power that makes new creatures out of old sinners. A new convert will help to dig out others and will continue the power of reproduction. if this urge is not fulfilled, the Holy Ghost will be suppressed.

The drive for reproduction, if not fulfilled in one’s ministry, will lead the person to look for self-justification. In-stead of new converts added to the kingdom, the only production is the creation of excuses. A positive force is soon turned to a negative reaction due to frustration. One of the main functions of the church is to teach new converts how to witness. Someone should go with the convert to instruct, bolster his confidence, and help set up Bible studies.

A church that is actively using the power of witnessing eliminates problems before they happen. There is no substitute for Holy Ghost witnessing to keep the church growing and happy.

A church that does not reproduce is dying spiritually, and it will be only a matter of time until it is dead physically as well. God’s church is alive and well, and as a healthy church, it will raise its young to be healthy.

There is much controversy over the meaning of the par-able of the leaven. Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened (Matthew 13:33). I would like to offer this explanation; leaven is usually considered as a negative ingredient but it also has some very positive characteristics. The above verse states that the kingdom of heaven is like leaven. The kingdom of heaven is not sinful, vile, or negative.

Leaven is active, and a little can affect much, which is also the characteristic of a true believer in the kingdom of heaven. One can put ten thousand to flight, but our battle is not conquering people but rather conquering sin. The leaven of the Holy Ghost is pure and multiplies quickly. The three measures could be Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria and then to the uttermost part of the earth.

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8). First, three measures were leavened, and then the boundary was the whole earth.

The amount of leaven hidden in the meal seemed insignificant, but hiding leaven is almost impossible. It works even though it may at first be unnoticed. Leaven is powerful because of its ability to spread quickly. The gospel of the kingdom is like yeast. If it is alive, it will always be at work. Anytime the yeast is no longer working, it is dead or has run its intended course.

As the yeast invades the meal, the meal becomes part of the leaven, and together they become one. If we are partners with Jesus, we lose our identity and become more like Him. Paul declared, For to me to live is Christ (Philippians 1:21). When Jesus comes into our lives through the power of the Holy Ghost, He has chosen to be part of us.

Jesus would rather call us sons than servants. To be sons we must accept part of the Master’s burden and responsibility. As sons we are proud of our Father and are not ashamed to talk about Him to all we meet.

 

The above article “Power to Witness” is written by Jack Tanner. This article was excerpted from chapter fourteen in Tanner’s book The King And His Kingdom.

 

The material is copyrighted and should not be repainted under any other name or author. However, this material may freely be used for personal study or purposes.

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20 Ways to Not Grow

photoTwenty Ways To Not Grow

Tim Massengale

 

 

 

 

Yesterday I drove past a local high school. On the signboard out front someone had placed the following sage observation: The only place that success comes before work is in the dictionary.

 

With that thought in mind, let me say that it is not excessively difficult to see a church grow, but it does require a certain amount of time, effort and work. You also need a plan, for no journey is successful without clear direction. And it requires having enough desire to work your plan consistently regardless of setbacks and disappointments. If a church will do these things, it will grow. As I have stressed often in this column: If we will do our part (go forth with a burden and sow the gospel seed) God will do His part (bring souls to full Bible salvation). This is His unequivocal promise (Psalms 126:6).

 

But then it hit me: Not every church wants to grow – or at least not enough to do something about it. They have this wonderful group of believers who gather several times a week to worship and hear the Word. There is a spirit of love and unity and blessing. They like their church the way it is. It is comfortable. They are happy. Of course, they would love to see new souls in the altars, but not if it requires changing anything and not if it requires more of their time or money.

 

So, here are some easy to apply guidelines to help you not grow. If carefully followed, they will make any church growth highly unlikely.

 

  1. Don’t think, talk, or preach about growth. Any topic but that. Talking about soul winning is fine, as long as no real plans or programs are discussed to see this happen.
  2. Don’t delegate any ministry leadership. Or at least, no more than you already have. If you already have a Sunday School Director, a Youth Leader, or a Ladies Auxiliary Director, fine. But stay away from delegating any new positions like New Convert Care Director, Home Bible Study Director, Visitor Follow-Up Leader, Promotions Director, Outreach Leader, Music Minister and so on. Be totally content with what you now have.
  3. Do nothing to help or encourage your leaders. Don’t give them a job description. Don’t help them learn to do their job better. No books, no magazines, no conferences, no seminars, nothing. Show no interest in helping them set goals or explore new plans.
  4. Don’t do annual planning with your leaders. Don’t even think about having an Annual Planning Retreat with all your leaders. Don’t brainstorm ideas or try new things or improve current plans and activities. In fact, don’t challenge them to do anything this next year.
  5. Don’t ask your leaders to plan on their own. Don’t ask for a departmental one-year plan. Don’t ask for any departmental goals or activities. This will encourage them to coast along and to be content with the status quo.
  6. Don’t meet with your leaders monthly. In fact, never meet with them at all unless they ask – and then cancel the meeting a few times or just keep it short and quick. If you do meet with them in any way, do it only once a year to put a few dates on a calendar. Regular meetings builds team spirit, shows that you are interested in their success, and encourages them to plan and reach for goals – and you would not want that.
  7. Don’t make anyone accountable for anything. No monthly reports, no follow-up on goals or plans. Don’t check up on anything. New converts? Visitor Follow-up? Home Bible Studies? Who cares?
  8. Don’t train your leaders to be leaders. If your leader grows, his or her department will grow. And if the department grows, your church will grow. God forbid.
  9. Don’t set any numerical growth goals. Don’t set goals for converts, new convert retention, home Bible studies, visitors, contacts, Sunday school, bus ministry, or anything. Stay away from goals of any kind. Because when you set goals, it just makes you feel guilty because you made no plans to help you reach those goals.
  10. Don’t be friendly to visitors. If this seems too extreme, be friendly at first, then ignore them. No guest parking, no greeters, no ushers, no guest packets, no welcome time – and when they slip out the door during altar call, don’t have anyone speak or invite them back.
  11. Don’t follow-up on your visitors. Since 100% of your converts come from your visitors, and few receive the Holy Ghost the first time they come, you don’t want to encourage any to return. Don’t call them, send them a letter, and especially don’t visit them. A visit has the greatest effect upon whether they return or accept a home Bible study – so don’t do that.
  12. Don’t push Home Bible Studies. Don’t promote it, don’t train teachers, and don’t try to get new studies for your teachers to teach. And especially don’t appoint a home Bible study director because he might try to do all three.
  13. Don’t train your saints how to be a witness. Just assume that growth is entirely a work of the Holy Ghost. If a saint has the Holy Ghost they should know how to witness. No training needed.
  14. Don’t start a Constant Contact Consciousness ministry. The CCC ministry just might encourage people to get in the ‘habit’ of witnessing. It’s much better to go month after month and never witness or invite anyone to church.
  15. Don’t start a bus, van, or car ministry. In fact, stay completely away from any children’s evangelism ministries. When you win a child to God you just might win their parents too. We don’t need that.
  16. Don’t advertise your church. Especially don’t let newcomers to your community know where your church is or what special ministries you might have to offer.
  17. Don’t try any new evangelism methods. Use only methods that were popular fifty years ago. Just because a method isn’t working is no reason to abandon it. After all, it’s the tradition that counts.
  18. Build small buildings on small lots. This keeps the congregation thinking small. Don’t even consider moving to a new facility. Too many memories and history in the old one. Better to just stay small.
  19. Emphasize ‘quality not quantity.’ This one always works. Make it sound like those who advocate growth are just playing the ‘numbers game.’
  20. Don’t pray for growth. Pray for the sick, missions, spiritual renewal, anything but growth!

Posted in AIS CD - Church Growth, NC - New Convert Care Ministry, OPGP - General Outreach Ministry1 Comment

How to Be a Fruitbearer by James Holland

James Holland

 

 

 

 

In fruit bearing we are referring to principles that will help us to produce the proper fruit within our lives as a believer so we can and will be effective in reaching the lost around us. Psalm 1:2-3 says, “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” To do this we must stay full of the spirit. That is, to allow the Holy Spirit to lead us in our daily walk. We must read and meditate upon the Word of God. Here is a short list of the kind of fruit that we as a believer should be seeing in our personnel life. This is in addition to the fruit we have already discussed in Gal.5

1- Repentance- Matt.3: 8, Luke13: 5-9

2- Practicing the truth daily- Matt.7: 16-21, Col.1: 10

3- Answered prayer- John 15:7-8

4- An offering of money given by believers-Rom.15: 28, Mal.3: 10 (It is not the responsibility of the unbelieving world to produce the financial fruit that is needed for the operation of the kingdom while many believers have no fruit whatsoever in their lives in this area. This is one of the quickest ways for a believer to wither and die spiritually. It will also cause whatever fruit they may have in their life to begin to dry up as well.)

5- A Christ like character- Gal.5: 22-23

6- Winning unbelievers- Rom.15: 28, I Cor.16: 15, Col.1: 6

We must never forget that we are called to bear fruit. This pleases God. We must also realize that to be a fruit bearer, we must grow to spiritual maturity. There are no shortcuts to maturity. It takes years for us to grow to adulthood and it takes a full season for fruit to mature and ripen. The same is true for the fruit of the spirit. This development does take time. Spiritual growth, like physical growth, takes time. Sometimes it seems we are more concerned about how fast we grow than how strong we grow! Paul writes in Philippians 1:6, “I am sure that God who began the good work within you will keep right on helping you to grow in his grace until his task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ return.” (LB) The question is often asked why does it take so long? Here are a couple of reasons to consider:

A- We are slow to learn. Most people have to relearn a lesson 40 or 50 times to really get it.

B- We have a lot to unlearn. Since most of our problems- all of our bad habits didn’t develop overnight, it is unrealistic to expect them to go away immediately. The Bible calls it “taking off the old self and putting on the new self.” While you are given a brand new spirit at the moment of conversion, you still have old habits, patterns, and practices that must be removed and replaced by the leading of the spirit of the Lord.

C- We are afraid to face the truth about ourselves.

Truth will set us free, but it often makes us miserable first. Only as we allow God to shine the light of truth on our faults, failures, and hang-ups can we begin to change them.

D- Growth is often painful and scary.

There is no growth without change; there is no change without fear or loss. And there is no loss without pain. Every change involves a loss of some kind. You must let go of old ways in order to experience the new.

E- Habits take time to develop. Remember that your character is the sum total of your habits. There is only one way to develop the habits of a Christlike character – you must practice them. Paul urged Timothy to, “Practice these things. Devote your life to them so that everyone can see your progress” (I Timothy 4:15).

It is key that we remember that God is at work in our lives and regardless of how long this process may seem to us, we must cooperate with God in the process.

 

When God wants to make a mushroom, he does it overnight, but if he wants to make a giant oak, he takes a hundred years.
Hope of the Harvest

 

(Matt.9: 37-38)  Jesus was traveling with his disciples through all the cities and villages interacting with people. Verse 35 of this chapter explains what he was doing. “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.”

 

He is showing the disciples several important principals of the harvest. In verse 36 Jesus shows them the proper attitude about the harvest and in verse 37 He declares the hope of the harvest. In verse 38, He tells the believer to pray for workers and to be workers themselves.

 

It goes without saying that if you do not believe there is a harvest; you will not show up in the field. God provides for the fowl of the air, yet they still have to get out of the nest and go to the field. We need to remember that the harvest, because it is in the field, cannot come to us so we must go to it! Here are the principals we must follow to be effective in the harvest field:

1-Teaching- Jesus gave direction to the people this produced hope.

2-Preaching- He imparted hope beyond their current situation.

3-Healing- He restored wholeness to the people. (Matt.10: 1-And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of disease”). We see here that the power of salvation can and will transform all who will obey. Each person has an invaluable, everlasting soul. Many of these souls can be saved if only someone will present the message of salvation to them.

4- Jesus was able to discern their spiritual condition. “They fainted.” They were harassed, overcome bewildered with things “they were scattered abroad” they were without direction. Man needs Godly direction and spiritual leadership. We too must have discernment to reap the harvest that God has set before us. We must do more than talk about the harvest. We must believe that the harvest is present and that it can be gathered.

This is no doubt why so many within the kingdom today are full of anxiety. They are working all around the harvest field, yet never entering into the field. They are masters at telling everyone what needs to be done while not doing anything themselves. They are busy doing nothing – clouds without rain. They have a lot of activity, yet very little productivity! There is always someone to help to reach out to, minister to. Someone always needs direction. Sinners need saving and the saved folks need strengthening so that they can grow into what God desires. There is always the possibility of a harvest. In John 4: 35, the writer writes, “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.” There are some key words in this command. First, there is some to be harvested today. Secondly, He says look up. That is look beyond what you are merely dealing with currently. Then, He says LOOK! Not just glance at, but also look – that is focus in on. This depicts seeing as God sees, discerning what you are looking at.

Having just declared the possibility of the harvest, Jesus proceeds to reveal the problem of the harvest; there are not enough labors. Had Jesus stopped here we still would have no hope of a harvest. Yet he proceeds to give us the solution to the problem. He commands the disciples to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into the harvest.

Pray ye here implies to express the request as your own personal need. Believers are only deceiving themselves if they are waiting for the world to reap the harvest and then bring it to us! (Come on!)

So we see here that there will always be a harvest for the church to gather in every generation. So don’t excuse yourself from this part of the work of God. Also don’t waste time trying to measure your harvest to someone else’s harvest. While each field is different, always remember God has promised that there is a harvest to be gathered!

Become a worker today in God’s harvest field that he has set before you!

 

 

The above article, “How to Be a Fruitbearer” was written by James Holland. The article was excerpted from Holland’s book Remaining Fruitful as a Leader.

 

The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.

Posted in AIS CD - Apostolic Books, AIS CD - Leadership Resources2 Comments


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