Daily Spirit & Word: 755: Winning The Hard Hearts.
What Does it Take to Awaken The Desire For God?
Acts 26:24-29 (NIV) Paul’s Testimony Before King Agripa and Festus.
24 At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defence. “You are out of your mind, Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane.”
25 “I am not insane, most excellent Festus,” Paul replied. “What I am saying is true and reasonable.
26 The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner.
27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.”
28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”
29 Paul replied, “Short time or long—I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”
Good morning my friends, I’ve been reflecting upon our outreach over the last few weeks. A couple of weeks ago we took some American girls out with us to share the Good News of Jesus and Jackie, who was with me, was so struck by the Apathy and Cynicism she encountered from the people of London. She found it really hard and felt their pain. She said, “They need a breakthrough, they need to know there is a God”… She was particularly struck by one man’s response, “If there is a God, then I don’t care”… It was a bit like what King Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”
What is it that makes a soul so hard to reach?
We’re often perplexed as Jackie was, we wonder what makes people so hard to reach for Jesus.
The Bible has lots of answers to that question, “Sin, hard-heartedness, rebellion, Satan, doubt, spiritual blindness, spiritual deafness, fear, love of the world, lack of faith,” However, the Bible also makes it clear that it’s the LORD who draws people to Himself and He does so through His Church. Not the church buildings but the church people, you and me. He’s told us clearly what will awaken a sin soaked and hard hearted soul from their slumber; it’s the Gospel the Good News itself that will produce the much needed faith to believe in God, to believe in Jesus and to believe that this life is not all there is.
But before we can preach the Good News to anyone, we’ve got to plough-up the rough ground of their heart to get them ready for the good seed of the Gospel, we can do that with something sharp and hard to break open that hard-heart soil. Thankfully God has also provided a way for us to do that too: through the right use His law. It’s the LAW of God, the Ten Commandments that will reveal to a person their NEED of Jesus. Remember though, we can’t be SAVED by the law, it just makes us aware of God’s High Heavenly Standard and how far we’ve all fallen short of it.
Romans 3:20 (NIV) “Therefore no-one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.” (The Law Awakens The Conscience).
Galatians 3:24-26 (KJV) Schoolmaster Teaches:
24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
There’s another function of God’s Law; It also awakens the sin-seared conscience, because repeated sin tends to deaden the conscience and God gives people over to whatever their heart’s desire. If you want to sin, then God will let you, but you’ll pay the consequences afterwards.
Once we’ve prepared the heart, just as Jesus did, then a person will be ready to hear the Good News.
Not always immediate though, as we’ve seen with King Agrippa, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to become a Christian?” Sometimes it takes repeated exposure to the high standards of God’s moral code, before a person realises “it’s impossible to be good enough in my own strength to get to Heaven.” The Law of God, the Ten Commandments bring a knowledge of sin and awaken our conscience once again.
But eventually, and hopefully, the heart will be prepared for the sowing of the good seed of God’s Word into the softened ground of their hearts. Faith comes by hearing and understanding the Good News. It’s not just preaching it, but helping someone understand the good news.
The POWER to SAVE: Comes through PRAYER.
We can do all of that good work for the Lord though and still lack the power to save, because one key ingredient the Lord has provided is lacking; PRAYER… We must be praying for those we want to bring to Jesus. We know that it’s by His Spirit that He’ll lead men to Christ, He does this through the proclamation of the Gospel, that is how they’ll get faith, but the power comes when we first connect with the Saviour ourselves for those we want to introduce Him. Without prayer, without fellowship with Jesus, we’re going to remain powerless to win a single convert to Him. Didn’t Jesus say, “Apart from Me you can do nothing”. Jesus longs for you to spend quality time with Himself. He often went off to lonely places just to be with the Father. It would have been so easy for Jesus to make excuses, “I’m too tired”, “I’ve been healing all day and I’m exhausted”, but look through the Gospels and you’ll notice that when Jesus went to pray, something amazing always happened the very next day or even immediately.
We can reason it out my friends, if Jesus needed to pray and seek the Father’s will and spend time with His Father in Heaven, then so do we. I’m just so thankful that Jesus chose ordinary folks to be His closest Disciples, because when they saw Jesus praying and what happened as a result, they asked Him, “Lord, teach us to pray”… They knew, when Jesus went off to pray, something awesome is about to happen soon and they wanted it too. Jesus Followers eventually got it my friends, look through Acts and you’ll notice something AWESOME: Whenever the Believers, followers of Jesus prayed, something fantastic happened: Prison doors flew open, Angels appeared, earthquakes, shaking ground, freedom, power, people coming to faith, etc etc… It’s PRAYER and connecting with Jesus, that’s the KEY to unlocking Heaven’s Power on Earth.
Have you got someone you know who needs Jesus? Do they seem closed to the Gospel? Well, when was the last time you spent an hour or two with Jesus just for them? Bringing their whole life to Jesus in prayer; their thoughts, feelings, hurts, anger, hatred, hard-heartedness, stubborn refusal to believe, rebellion against God, indifference, cynicism, fears, failings, arguments, etc, etc, bring it all to Jesus in prayer. When you do, you will come to understand that Jesus loves them even more than you do. You’ll see that Father God’s heart is that they come to repentance and faith in His Son Jesus. God wants to SAVE your friends, but He wants you to want that just as much as He does. We will only get the Father’s Heart when we spend time with Him in prayer. So I’ve come to see that it’s not just knowing the Father’s Heart, but also getting his heart’s desire for ourselves.
You’ve heard the saying, “Bad company corrupts good character” well the opposite is just as true; “Good company changes bad character”. When we’re with the LORD regularly, He’s GOOD, then our own character will become even more like His.
After Spending Time Praying: Then it’s TIME FOR AWESOME 🙂 You’re going to see Him doing awesome, amazing and exciting things in the lives of those you’ve brought to Jesus in prayer.
Keep praying, don’t stop, don’t give up just because you don’t get immediate results. Be persistent. Sometimes when we’re about to get a breakthrough, we’ve give up. When God’s about to move in power, we’ve moved on. Oh My friends, don’t give up on your friends, because God didn’t give up on you. Remember again how stubborn you were before you finally accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. Extend the same grace to your loved one and those you are trying to win to Jesus.
Keep praying, Keep sharing, Keep going for Jesus.
So here’s how to break open the hard-hearted, sin-soaked souls for Jesus.
- Prayer, bring them to Jesus first in prayer. 2 Cor 10:3-5 Get equipped yourself by Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit. John 15, Ephesians 6:10-20.
- Preparation of their Hearts: Law to the proud (get their hearts ready for the Gospel).
- Gospel: Grace to the Humble / Humbled. Once a person is ready for the Good News of Jesus, they’ll gladly hear the answer to their dilemma.
Once a hard-heart has been softened by the spade-work of the law, and they’ve stopped trying to justify themselves, then they are ready for the Good News, so give them the Good News of Jesus.
This is the Way of the Master: The LORD Jesus Christ. That’s what you’ll see Jesus doing in the Gospels time and time again. Jesus was showing / instructing and preparing His Disciples how to win people to God. He set a good example and then commanded them to do it, being obedient to ALL that He had taught them.
THE NEED FOR GOD AWAKENED.
There is the sense of need in every heart, but most often people are meeting their needs in worldly ways. They long for something, and think the answer lies in what this world has to offer. That deep hunger and longing has been placed in their hearts by God. “Deep calls to Deep”…
For a long time a man may live the routine of life half asleep; then all of a sudden there comes some completely insolvable problem, some quite unanswerable question, some overpowering temptation, some struggling in an effort to be good, which he feels is beyond his strength or capacity to achieve. In that day there is nothing left to do but to cry out, “Heaven SAVE me”, “There must be more to life than this”… And that sense of unmet, ungratified, unsatisfied need awakens the soul to it’s deepest need, the need for God.
Our friends, neighbours and family members in this world are desperately hungry spiritually. They might not articulate it, but we can observe their hunger when we watch what the spend their precious time, money and efforts trying to get. We know the things of this world bring soul satisfaction for a short time, but because it doesn’t last, and the hunger doesn’t go away, they keep looking and trying to fill and satisfy it with the wrong things, the things of this world. My friends, we’ve got what they desperately need, so we need many more of God’s people to get a desire to share what we have with them.
We can’t do it in our own strength, we cannot awaken or persuade any soul, only the HOLY SPIRIT can do that my friends. So pray, prepare the heart, preach the Gospel and pray again. Then stand back and watch the LORD do His awesome work of bringing precious souls to Himself. Amen.
It might be a trickle at first, but then the flood of awakening will come. I believe that many thousands will come to see their need of Jesus.
We’re going out again tonight to share the Good News of Jesus on the streets with some of those hungry people, we’re meeting this morning to pray and spend time with Jesus for them. Amen!
8.00am Prayer Gathering.
5.00pm Gathering to go out and share the Good News.
You can do it to: Pray, Prepare, Share and Lead them to Jesus. That’s a little like a P,P,S 🙂