Artscript Canada Publications
The following mini messages were written as newspaper articles By: Douglas W.Greenfield
The Gold Phone Conversation
Go Ahead - - Make the call
Just don't make it your "Last" call
Hello God…. Is that you?
What if someone gave you the option of a free call on the “Gold phone” and you were able to dial up God and say, “Excuse me, but what is all this stuff about religion, anyway? Are you “really” up there or is religion just a fabrication of those who need a crutch?”
Your conversation might go something like this:
“Hello God, how are you?” He answers, “I AM!”
“Ummm, I have some questions about all that I see in the world around me. There are so many religious faiths in the world; some seem good and some are very strange. Which one is right? I am a pretty good person but the Christians tell me that I need a saviour, whatever that means. What have you got to say about that? And before you answer, I have to tell you that I cannot believe in a God that would let bad things happen in the world.”
“Hello- - - are you still there?”
Then God says, “My child, let Me explain the truth to you. A long, long time ago when I was busy building this galaxy, I enjoyed the company of My creation and good friend, Lucifer. Lu and I used to walk together when I was working on the earth and he loved music so much that I made him a wonderful instrument to play on. You can read about this in my book, by the way, in the chapter called Ezekiel 28. He was my most beautiful and trusted angel and I gave Lucifer control of the earth. As you will read, when he was presiding as King of Tyre he began to become corrupt and eventually insisted that he wanted to be God! ‘But,’ I said, ‘I have already made you god of this whole world.’ But no, he wanted more. A great insurrection ensued and finally, I had to expel him from My heavenly world along with a third of the angels that followed him. I recorded this in Revelation 12:9. From that time onward I forbade him to return, and of course My old friend is now very, very angry with Me! What happened then is most disturbing, because Lu, in retaliation, went after My most prized design. He spread his corruption to my Adam creation. You will be able to read about this also at the beginning of the third chapter of my book called Genesis. I want you to understand that before that time the world was not like it is today. The world was pure, there were no lies, no crime and no anger or wars. Angels and people lived in the joy and peace of the worlds I had made for them. This corruption that Lucifer initiated was the worst I had ever seen. It spread from human to human like a disease and I called it sin."
"You mentioned the bad things going on in the world, so let Me explain why that happens. As a human, you can only see with your eyes but all around you the great insurrection that I mentioned continues in the spiritual realm. My servant Paul describes this in the chapter called Ephesians 6. He wrote that 'The fight is not against each other (flesh and blood) but the battle is actually with the officers of my fallen angels, called Principalities, Powers and Evil Rulers of the Darkness.' Now do you understand who is behind the horrible things that occur in the world? That is because Lucifer and his angry friends remain quarantined on the earth."
“But God,” I said, “why do you let all this continue?”
“My child,” He said, “the laws that govern the universe will be too complicated for you to understand but let me just say this. I must let this world run its course; it will continue until the appointed time.”
So I asked, “God, is it true, then, that all humans do actually need a saviour? I don’t understand this.”
“Yes”, said God, “you do need a saviour. The reason for this is relatively simple. Remember Me telling you about the disease of corruption which I called sin? I mentioned that it has spread even to the humans, as is written in my book in the chapter called Genesis. So you see, the humans are also quarantined there on the earth for the same reason that the angels cannot leave; because of the corruption. I won’t change the penalty upon the angels who are down there on earth but I did devise a plan to help my Adam creation. You see, the only way to destroy sin is by fire. So, when my servant Paul wrote in the chapter called Romans 6:23, 'the punishment (result) of sin is death;' that is what I was talking about. My plan for the world will soon be complete and at that time I will cause the world to burn, destroying all the corruption with it. Read about it in Revelation 20: 12-14. So when people say, 'I have no sin,' they deceive themselves and they do not understand what really happened. This is recorded in 1 John 1:8, 10.”
“One of the laws that govern the universe to keep it pure is called ‘the law of sin and death.’ This law assures that all sin and corruption must be destroyed by fire. Your enemy (Satan) knew that the humans would not be able to escape the disease and you would end up in the fire because of it. The only way for Me to set the people free, then, would be to satisfy this law in some other way. This is why I sent my only Son to the earth. When Jesus went to the cross, He voluntarily took upon Himself the sin of every human in the world and died with that sin, upon Him, effectively paying the death penalty for the sins of all mankind. Read about it in your Bible in I John 3:8, where I explain that the devil has sinned from the beginning. ‘For this purpose the Son of God was manifested (revealed), that He might destroy the works of the devil.' ”
“So that is what Jesus was all about!” I said. “Wasn’t there any other way to buy us back?” I asked. “I mean, He was your Son - - - your only Son!”
He was quiet for a minute and then began again. “My child, that sacrifice was My greatest gift to the Adam race. One man (My Son), gave His life a ransom for all mankind, as I wrote in 1 Timothy 2:6.”
“God,” I said, “That was an unimaginable gift! How could you do that for us? It would have been the most excruciating sacrifice for you! And, if I cannot earn my salvation, how can I receive it?”
“Just as I wrote to you in John 3:16,” God replied. “Jesus truly was My only Son and because of that, you could never afford to pay Me back. That, My child, is what the god of this world cannot give you. It is called grace. I wrote in the chapter called Ephesians 2, “It is only by grace that you can be saved; it is not of yourselves so that man cannot boast. It is the gift of God.” Grace is quite simply described as an unmerited favour.”
“Ok, I think I understand,” I said, “but wait, if we were all born with this disease, how could we be responsible for it?”
“As I mentioned,” replied God, “all corruption will be burned. What makes you responsible, My child, is when you ‘choose’ to act in sin when you could do otherwise. The sad thing is that all of Adam’s race do sin and even enjoy it. It is for this reason I warned you about it in my book, in Romans 3:23. Now do you understand why you need a saviour so badly?”
“Yes, I think I do. Now, what do you want me to do?”
He replied, “As I have written clearly in Acts 3:19, 'Repent, stop deliberately sinning and ask Me to forgive you!' You see, My child, if you confess (meaning to acknowledge your sins), I will be faithful and just to forgive you your sins and cleanse you from all unrighteousness, just as I wrote in 1 John 1:9. Then, look to my Son and learn from Him. Do what He teaches you to do in Romans 10:9-10 and you will escape the fire.”
“I promise you, as many as receive my Son Jesus, to them I will grant the power to become the children of God, even to those who believe in His name. Read John 1:12. You see, I wrote these things clearly in the book so that you will escape the fire and have eternal life with Me. Read 1 John 5:13. My Son’s promise is that 'whatsoever you shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name: ask and you shall receive, that your joy may be full!’ John 16: 23 –24.”
“Thank you, My God and My Saviour!” I said, “I do believe that Jesus is your Son and that He did come to carry all my iniquities. I know that I have done many things to displease You and I ask You to please forgive all my sins. Please help me not to sin anymore but to be pleasing to You in all that I do and all that I say.”
“Lord, I wonder, then, if this is the only way for man to be saved, may I ask you why there are all those other confusing religions in the world?”
God took a deep breath and said quietly, “Remember, your fight is not with flesh and blood (humans) but with the Devil in the spiritual realm. This is my old friend turned archenemy, Lucifer, or Satan, as he is sometimes known. He has made it as difficult as possible for Adam’s race to escape the fire by creating all kinds of false diversions. The thing that you must remember is what My Son Jesus told you; 'I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except by Me, John 14:6.' I created the universe and your earth, therefore I existed before all the other gods and religions. I also made a record of My work and plan, which was written by forty of my prophets over four thousand years.”
“All Scripture (in My Bible) is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the people of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work, as recorded in 2 Timothy 3:16.”
“And now, My child, you have asked enough questions to know where the rest of the answers can be found. May you abound in hope because of the truth that you have learned. Remember to cast all your care upon Me (Pray), for I care for you, 1John 5:7."
“For I know the thoughts I think toward you, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you shall call upon Me, and you shall go and pray to Me and I will hearken unto you. Jeremiah 29:12.”
“Thank you, Lord,” I said, “for sorting out all my confusion and for showing me where the truth can be found.”
When we surrender to God, what do we mean?
Realizing that we have not pleased God.
Until now we have lived for ourselves; we have never been concerned about what God had planned for us.
In prayer we seek God’s forgiveness and cleansing for anything that comes between Him and us, any sin, anything.
Sin is easily defined as the thoughts and actions that we have that are ungodly or those things that God would not be pleased with.
Now we invite Him to fill us, live within us and complete the plan He has for us.
From now on we seek God’s favour, desiring to be the kind of person He would be pleased with.
We seek God’s company daily, to have intimate friendship with Him. Growth in our spirit and communication with God is dependant upon prayer and our daily reading of the Scriptures.
Escaping a Dying world.
This world is a dying world that was created by God himself but was ruined by those actions of man He calls sin. The devil, the father of lies introduced sin to mankind and the world, so the destruction of this world comes as a result of that corruption.
If we live in this world and desire to be part of it or influenced by it, we will fall subject to the destiny of the world. It is written that this world will be destroyed by fire. Mankind, like the world, has suffered the insidious decay of the corruption of sin. This alone is what separates us from the Love of God.
This is why God in his great wisdom sent his Son, his only Son to rescue us from this dying world.
Jesus’ punishment and dying are a substitute for our own deserved punishment. As you believe and accept this truth, His powerful resurrection will save us from our deserved punishment. Jesus’ death is a model for us to follow, that we should also die to this world. But be encouraged that it doesn’t stop there! Jesus, on the third day rose from the dead and at that time gained victory over all the death and corruption brought about by every sin that has plagued mankind.
Now we can live in victory, by surrendering to God through the saving power of Jesus Christ. We can live out our lives in this dying world and not be subject to the corruption and subsequent death of this world.
HOW? Only by inviting Jesus to dwell in us and wash us clean of the corruption and lies that are part of this world and that keep us separated from God. No longer must we be controlled by the influence of our spiritual enemy the devil, or to be tainted by the influence of this dying world.
Surrender is the operative word!
By surrendering to God by faith in Jesus, we willingly take our attention and devotion from the world around us and place it on God.
We must daily invite Jesus to replace the influx of dead and dying values and lies that we pick up through our association with the sinful world around us.
We must rely upon the powerful cleansing Word of God that is itself alive to build our faith and restore our minds.
Having said this, then our success in this world is a direct result of our actions. God has done His part and the victory is available to us. Now, if we actually want to be free of this dying world and to live in victory, and if we wish to be free of the bondages that we picked up from the world, we must daily seek God and His righteousness and all that we need will be given to us.
If we attempt to embrace God and still desire the pleasures of this world we will fall. We would fall because having invited God into our lives we must never take Him back with us to our old worldly pursuits.
If we do arrive back in our old worldly hangouts we will quickly find that we are alone; God doesn’t want to be there.
Naturally, He is the very opposite of what this world is all about.
So the basic rule of cause and effect is apparently required for success.
1. To escape a dying world of which we are a dying part. We must ask forgiveness of God and repent, not wanting to go back to this decaying world and the sin we experienced there.
If we don’t come to God for cleansing and forgiveness we will simply perish with the destiny of this world.
2. We must invite Jesus Christ in to live in us and give us the power to live in victory within the confines of this old world and to give us the gift of eternal life.
God says if we believe in Him, we must also believe in Christ whom He sent to save us. He has gone to prepare a place for us, that where He is there we can be also. This means that upon inviting Jesus in, our lives will be written in the Lamb’s book of Life, and we will be free from the judgment and final destruction of this world.
3. We must then study the Word of God and surrender to the Lordship of Jesus if we are to have the power and the insight to succeed.
We must not attempt to take God back into the world to the old things that we used to enjoy. If we do return, we will find that we are alone and without the power and wisdom which comes from the Holy Spirit. We must learn what it means to be Holy as He is Holy. We need to desire and ask for His daily guidance and power.
4. By studying the Word of God and seeking His input into our lives, we learn to recognize just who God is and who we really are.
We take the Word of God for the renewing of our minds. If we don’t read and study the Bible we can never grow in the knowledge of who God is, nor will we discover the power of the promises He has for us.
5. We find ourselves falling in Love with Him, in reverence and respect.
Without a clear understanding of who God is, we only find ourselves trying to approach Him much the same way that we were used to getting things from the world. This approach is damaging to our relationship with the Father and we will find ourselves wondering why He doesn’t answer our prayers.
6. As we remain in Him and grow in Him, He will teach us how to choose His way over the ways of the world.
We can be certain that each time we depart from Him and go back to the temptations and the lusts of the world, we will go without Him. We find, however, that He is still back where we left Him and is again willing to take our hand and forgive us. We do need to know that each time this happens, it slows our spiritual growth and prevents God from blessing us with all that He wants to give us according to His promises.
The Genesis Formula
In the beginning
Have you ever stood in front of the vitamin rack in your local pharmacy and asked “Just which one is right for me?” So many choices and so much to learn. “Will I ever find just the right combination of herbs to make me feel good again?”
In our quest for God, the problem is much the same, as we stand big eyed, bewildered and disheartened at a world full of spiritual choices. We don’t even have to leave home! Witnesses of Jehovah come to our door, friendly Mormon missionaries will visit, TV Evangelists vie for our attention (and money) and then there is the Christian church down the block. Who do I believe? Should we follow Oprah, the Dalai Lama or New Age beliefs? Who can I dare to trust with “MY” eternal destiny?
The greatest spiritual dilemma for most of mankind is not, Is there a God? For it is written, (A) “Only the fool has said in his heart, there is no God”(B) for anyone with eyes can see His handiwork in the night sky or in nature! No, the real issue is Why can’t I communicate with God or How do I make Him personal? You say, “I tried some of those churches and they all sound so convincing in their beliefs but I still feel empty! Why can I not find God for myself?”
Does God seem to be a nebulous, mystical Being that we cannot connect with the way we would like? If we desire to really know God, to walk with Him and be in His favor, then we must follow the formula that God has meticulously laid out for us in the beginning, in “His” book, the Bible. The formula is not complicated, but as in any formula, there are a certain order of steps that must be followed.
From the “original” scripture message:
(C)“He who comes to God must first believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
(D) Jesus said, “ Let not your heart be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in Me!”
* (E) “From there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find Him [only] if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”
* (F) Understand that we, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”
* (G) “But your iniquities have separated you from your God” [sins or iniquities are those things that we do and think that disgust a perfect Being like God]
* (H) “If we confess our sins, He (God) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
* (I) “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
(J) “Therefore bear fruits worth of repentance.” [To express sincere regret or remorse about one’s wrongdoing or sin]
You will surely find that doing business with God, confessing and repenting of your sin, will indeed bring about that coveted relationship with God the way it was intended to be in the beginning. The only thing that will separate us from God is more sin! Suffice it to say that if you are afraid to relinquish control of your life to God or if you like your sin more than you desire to know Him, you will never know the joy of a personal relationship with Him. Sadly, the final result of not coming to repentance is that any hope of eternal life with God will be forever lost.
Now, you might ask, if that formula is in the Bible then which Bible should I read? Can I trust any of the new modern translations? The answer (as it always is with God) is found by going back to the original scriptures. The story that God wants us to know, the history of creation and mankind has never changed, although our new emerging religions are attempting to twist that truth. The original scriptures still tell us, (K) “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” (This speaks of the power and authority of Christ Jesus.) (L)“All things were made through Him and without Him nothing was made that was made.” (Pay attention, Mr. Darwin!) (M) “In Him was life and the life was the light of men.” Jesus Himself tells us, (N)“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.” (Oprah dear, are you listening?)
The New World Translation of the Bible and others have recently changed the Scriptures, so be careful to search for a translation that maintains the original truths. The “Winds of Change” would have us believe that we are in a new age with a new story, but God says, (O) “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever,” and that, (P) the original scriptures must not be changed! If in doubt, we must compare our bible to a King James Version or a New King James Bible to see if the important scriptures have been changed.
(Q) “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and I will listen to you and you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”
Related scripture References (New King James Version)
(A) Only a fool has said in his heart there is no God...Psalm 14:1
(B) God is found in nature...Romans 1:20
(C) He is and that He is a rewarder...Hebrews 11: 6
(D) Let not your heart be troubled you believe in God, believe also in Me...John 14:1
(E) Seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul...Deuteronomy 4:29
(F) All have sinned and fall short of the glory...Romans 3:23
(G) Your iniquities have separated you from God...Isaiah 59:2
(H) If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins...1 John 1:9
(I) For God so loved the world...John 3:16
(J) Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance...Luke 3:8
(K) In the beginning was the word and....John 1:1
(L) All things were made through Him...John 1:3
(M) In Him was life and the life was the light of men...John: 1:4
(N) Jesus said, I am the resurrection and the life...John 11: 25
(O) Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever...Hebrews 13:8
(P) Last four verses of the Bible...Revelation 22:18-21
(Q) For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord...Jeremiah 29:11
You are not alone!
Each day as I live and watch the world around me, I become more and more grieved with seeing so many people struggling with the issues of life. They want good things for themselves and their families, they desire to be healthy, prosperous and productive and they want their lives to be significant. Yet, in all of this struggle, most people still feel insignificant, most never know prosperity and many experience only a life of sorrow and hard work.
Is this the lot of mankind? Is this the norm or is there some great secret that could change this entire life of struggle and hardship? Many people strive for wealth, hoping it will bring relief and meaning to their lives. Some turn to pleasure, resolved to enjoy life as much as they can before they die. Some choose an induced utopia of drugs or alcohol to simply numb the pain and disappointment of their failures. But Jesus Himself encourages us by saying: “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Then, God reaffirms this truth in the book of 1st. John 5:5 by saying: “Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”
Our loving Creator calls to us out of His book, the Bible. In Proverbs chapter 4 vs 20 He pleads with us, saying,, “My children, if you receive My words and treasure My commands within you, so that you incline your ear to wisdom and apply your heart to understanding; Yes if you cry out for discernment and lift your voice for understanding, if you seek her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear (reverence) of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly, He guards the path of justice, and preserves the way of His saints. Then you will understand righteousness and justice and every good path.”
Talk about a letter of encouragement from the heart of a Parent who longs to see His children blessed in every way! His promise, “My children, do not forget my law but let your heart keep My commands; for length of days and long life and peace they will add to you--and so you will find favour with God and man!” (Proverbs 3:1-4)
I have diligently studied the word of God and have experienced His goodness for well over forty five years now. And it is true that I have not ever seen “His” children begging bread or the righteous forsaken. God has blessed me, prospered me and disciplined me in love. His interest in me and His tenderness toward me is completely beyond my understanding.
In the world you you will have trouble. Take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33
We welcome you to come and celebrate God’s love for us (Worship) at the Christian church of your choice.
Please pick up your Gift
Each Christmas season our retail businesses enjoy a real financial boost. We all know that the sudden increase in sales occurs because in our culture we enjoy the delightful custom of gift giving, and what a marvelous custom that is. For us, Christmas is a time to show our love and appreciation for friends, family and neighbours, and to reach out to hurting people and rekindle old friendships.
I’ve heard it said that a true friend is one who makes the transition from our old address book into our new one. Possibly this is true of Christmas card lists as well. With a Christmas present, we affirm our love or appreciation for that special someone, a gesture that requires no reciprocation and has no strings attached.
Many years ago, mankind’s greatest admirer sent to us the most expensive gift ever given. That, of course, was the gift of eternal life given to us by our Father in heaven and made available to every person on Earth. Unfortunately, because you and I did not have God listed in our address book we went our own way and became separated from Him.
The gift was delivered in a most unusual way, delivered to a humble stable in Bethlehem, Judah. That starry night the skies overhead rang with the celebration of singing angels. It was the greatest gift ever given, a gift that would allow us to escape from the results of our disobedience to God and enable us to live forever on the new earth.
God tells us: For the wages (results) of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Although not delivered by Canada Post, this wonderful gift came right to our earthly door. All that is required, then, is to accept it for ourselves.
For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!
Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. . . For it is by believing in your heart, that you are made right with God; and it is by confessing with your mouth, that you are saved.
When we invite the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, into our lives and ask Him for forgiveness, we accept that gift of God, a gift that wipes away all of our past transgressions. The Father’s supreme sacrifice of sending His own Son to die for our transgressions is known as Grace.
For it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith, and this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.
Beloved, this Christmas don’t forget to pick up your gift. It has been waiting for you to accept it, from God with love.
I don't need Religion!
Why would I ever need Religion?
I don’t need religion! Why would I ever need a saviour? I am a pretty good person; I don’t lie, steal or cheat and I’ve certainly never killed anyone.
Thirty-five years ago, I was presented with challenges that my personal philosophy could not adequately address. The questions of life after death, the origin of knowledge and wisdom, and more importantly, my own moral accountability, were subjects that I could do little to defend with any authority. Oh, of course, I had many quick and shallow responses to argue with, as I had been taught. The basic problem with my arguments, however, was the credibility of the root knowledge on which my beliefs were founded. As surely as light dispels darkness, the flaws in my understanding of God and spirituality were dissolved and slowly replaced with logical and practical knowledge.
This knowledge finds its foundation in the very wisdom that created the universe and is recorded in the oldest, most credible book on the planet. Some forty different men scribed this ancient, yet modern book during a period of over four thousand years. Despite the fact that most of these writers had never met each other, the Scriptures all agree from beginning to end, simply because these writings were all inspired by the same spiritual author, God. A great many non-Christian historical writings and archaeological finds are further confirmation of the validity of these Bible Scriptures.
* * * Have you ever wondered about some of the following questions? * * *
* If there is only one God, why are there so many religions?
* Everyone has his or her own philosophy. Does it really matter what I believe? Just what religion are we supposed to believe anyway?
* I could understand “bad” people going to hell, but what kind of a god would condemn the rest of us to such punishment?
* How do we know who wrote the Bible? Can we actually believe such an ancient book?
* I learned about the origin of the universe in school but what is the origin of knowledge and wisdom?
* Is there really such a guy as the devil or is this just a story to make us turn to religion?
* If there is a God, what does he require of me?
* I have been very disappointed by some “religious” people; is it possible to be a Christian without being religious?
I invite you to do the research, read the Bible, ask God for insight and talk to someone who knows what real Christianity is all about.
If you haven't found a suitable answer, contact me or download my Kindle book: "The Celestial Citizen" where you will find answers to all these questions.
See: Artscript Publications for this book.
Friendship For Jesus
Let me introduce you to a friend of mine . . .
As members of the family of God
What is our job?
He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.
What is our attitude?
Being effective in ministry depends largely upon our attitude.
Is this our work? No, it is His work. God works through us.
Is this our ministry? No it is His ministry.
He is the one who has such great compassion for the lost.
We will never be very successful in our own strength, but He will be in His strength as He works through us.
Summary of our heart's attitude:
If we work out of pride or out of duty, or out of guilt or for the sake of earning points with God, we will appear as fakes, and we would be!
If we act out of our own compassion, yes, we will make a difference, but beware that in our own strength we will often fail our new friend just when they need us the most. Very often, people need more strength, time, energy and compassion than we as humans have to give. We need to work in God’s time and in His strength.
How do we then approach the job of “friendship evangelism” the way our Father would have us do?
Ephesians 6: 14,15.
"Stand, therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace."
Get up in the morning and consciously prepare yourself for what the Lord might do with you that day. Devotions are paramount. Scripture memorization is crucial. (Find a good gospel tract, for instance, and memorize all the Scriptures out of it). Know the gospel story inside and out. Start the day with prayer. This way, the Lord will shine through you and people will notice. Don’t worry about memorizing Scriptures and not being able to find them again. Remember that it is the Holy Spirit who is doing the work. When He needs a Scripture, He will find it in our cluttered brain and draw it out just in time. The critical thing here is to have the Scriptures in there for Him to use.
Work on your own relationship with Jesus. If He isn’t your very best friend, you will find it difficult to convince someone else that He is even real. James 4:8 says, "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you."
The advantage of friendship evangelism is that not only can others hear the message but also they can see who God is as He works through you.
Knowing this, we need to be extremely careful to “walk worthy of our calling” or in other words never give our new friend a reason to be turned off with God through what they see in us. We are also humans under construction and can easily act our feelings and frustrations in a way that would not be pleasing to God. "Let every one be swift to hear, slow to speak and slow to wrath." James 1:19
On the other hand, we are not, nor ever will be perfect and people need to see that we are just ordinary folks like them. We make mistakes, we deal with temptation and lust and have needs the same as they do.
As we get to know people, they will notice that we have a new ability to deal with these common things in life with the power of God. What we don’t say or don’t do will often be a greater witness than what we do say and do.
God says in John 1:12 that as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God to those who believe in His name.
This means that we are not servants or employees, but Sons and Daughters of God. As such, we should be about our Father’s business. That is the attitude He wants us to foster.
Then, as Sons and Daughters we have a more personal motivation to reach out to people. These people that God puts in our field of influence are those that He is working with. The Holy Spirit is calling them and therefore ready to begin construction of a new way of looking at life.
This is something to remember also, that God doesn’t want us to pounce on just anyone out there, sit on his chest and preach the gospel! No, the Holy Spirit is at work in certain people getting them ready to hear the very message that you have to give. We must wait for His cue. We will only turn someone off of the good news if we press them with a message that they are not yet ready to hear.
Pray that God will put the people in your path that He is calling and working with. Be bold to ask God for certain people that you believe He has put in your field of influence. Claim them for the kingdom of God (secretly in prayer). Remember that "the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous person avails much" James 5:16.
Just get to know people, develop friendships and DON’T preach to them.
Take all the time that the Holy Spirit needs to prepare them. Don’t rush, these are friends that you will have for the rest of your life. Be there for them as you would for your best friend. Remember, if they are “project friends” they are not real friends and they will sense the difference. Be open about your faith in a light way so as not to scare them off.
How do we know that the Holy Spirit is working in someone?
I always test the spiritual atmosphere; I listen to what they have to say, listening for a clue that the Spirit is convicting them of their need to search for God.
Sometimes you know folks are ready to listen when they open the conversation. Just go carefully and answer their questions or maybe offer some personal experience that you have had with God.
Most often, the Lord will allow something to happen in your friend’s life that you have the ability to help them with. It might be as simple as asking if they would like you to pray with them. It might be that you stick with them through some hard time in their lives. Remember that God is at work here and He cares for them more than you do.
Whatever you do, Do Not Give Up on your friend. Jesus didn’t give up on us.
Remember that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.
As we stand as mere humans before this friend whom God loves so dearly, and they are desperately needing to know, God and you know it but they don’t. Pray silently with your eyes open, asking, “Lord what do you want to say to this child, man or woman?” And He will give you the words to say. If God doesn’t speak through you, don’t try to help Him out, just shut up and be as supportive as possible.
Valuable qualities needed for friendship evangelism.
Be comfortable with people in any financial situation. We are all equal in God’s eyes. Dare to breach society’s caste system. But be careful with your own affluence.
Luke 10:25-37 “The Good Samaritan” – the ‘despised’ one reached out.
Romans 3:23 – “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”
Except for the grace of God, there go I! Don’t show pity, either.
If your friend is from a different ethnic or religious background, genuinely show an interest in what is important to them. Try to understand the ‘world’ they live in. Read up on their religion so you can dialogue with them.
Learn to be flexible. A friend in need may phone you at meal time or when you are in bed sleeping. But, care needs to be taken to ensure you are not being taken advantage of.
Some people can drain you of all your energy, so take care of yourself and don’t allow their problems to weigh you down so much they render you ineffective in helping them.
“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” In other words, ‘be there for them.’
1 Peter 3:15
Be prepared to give a reason for the hope that you have in Christ. And do it gently and respectfully.
Don’t take it personal. Friends under duress express anger in the presence of those they feel comfortable with. They sometimes say things they regret later on.
Sometimes your motives for friendship will be misunderstood.
“Why do you want to spend time with someone like me?”
“What’s in it for you?”
“What do you want from me?”
People have experienced pain, betrayal, deceit and hypocrisy from those who claim to be Christian.
Keep confidences. People often find it difficult to trust anyone.
Pray for your friend(s) on a regular basis. And when the time is right, let your friend know you pray for them and their challenges in life. When they are comfortable with it, ask if you can pray with them.
Women should befriend women, and men should befriend men. It is too easy for one of the parties to get the wrong idea concerning your intentions. Satan will use any opportunity he can to mess up the Christian or to ruin their reputation.
Know Your Enemy:
Whenever you step out to make yourself available to God, know that Satan will try to sabotage your efforts and good intentions.
1 Peter 5:8 – Resist the devil
1 John 4:4 -- Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.
The Not So Inconvenient Truth
Human beings, confusingly complex and radically diverse in our make up, rule this world with all the confidence and shortsightedness of Gold fish in a bowl!
We challenge each new day fuelled by our own personal quest to raise ourselves beyond yesterday’s disappointments. Shadowing our efforts for self improvement, however, dwells an inexplainable nagging of emptiness within our innermost being. This annoying lack of peace in our soul is often responsible for the pursuit of so many well-intentioned personal quests.
Since time immemorial the busyness of our lives has only delayed the inevitable. When the noise of our striving abates, we are invariably left with that same ambient restlessness in our unsettled soul.
The “Not so Inconvenient Truth” is that lasting peace in our soul can never be achieved without the assurance of eternal life. Eternal life, in turn, depends entirely on an internal revelation! Therefore, our conscious application of distractions such as careers, adventure, entertainment or even induced tranquility will always fall short of satisfaction. When yet another day dawns in our busy lives, that peace-shaped vacuum is still there.
So what can truly satisfy an aching human soul? What will gratify the age-old necessity for the pursuit of excellence, power or religion? When is a man or woman ever completely fulfilled and at peace?
The answer is found in the early writings of the appointed representatives of the builder and designer of that same human soul, the Creator God Himself. In His book, The Bible, the Creator tells us that He has placed a “desire for eternity” in our hearts. The famous and often quoted St. Augustine said, “Thou has made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.”
Despite the fact that we humans love to control our own lives, the truth is that we will never, ever find that peace that passes all understanding until the day we accept the gift of God. He has made it clear that our ungodliness separates us from Him and that the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus His Son. The truth is that until we possess this peace within us we spend all we have trying to find it. When we do accept the Gift of God, without exception we not only find peace, but a wonderful dimension of life such as we had never anticipated. The Creator confidently says, “He who has the Son has life: he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”
To endorse this very convenient truth, God assures us; “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you you will have trouble. Take heart! I have overcome the world.
Eternity in their Hearts
If we don’t fill it up with God, it’ll fill up with something else.
God belongs at the center of our hearts -- at the center of our lives. At the very deepest level of our souls, we want him there. We long for him. It’s that aching emptiness we feel in the world, the emptiness that doesn’t fill up, no matter how many nice toys or nice people we have around us. But we can’t let him in until we’ve unclogged things a little.
None of this means we have to give away all of our possessions and live in squalor, or to separate ourselves from other people. We just have to make sure those things are far enough away from our hearts, and from our affections, that they’re not in the path of the suction. That is what the saints called "detachment." Things are nice, but we recognize them as things. People are wonderful, but we don’t set them up as gods. Only God is God, and he goes in the middle.
Some people argue that all people have an innate longing for God. Pascal described it as a "God-shaped vacuum." Some quote Ecclesiastes 3:11 referencing God's placing of "eternity in their heart'' which is often said to mean that God has placed a God-shaped hole inside of all people who then spend their lives looking for something to fill it. Without God, people will try to fill the hole with immorality, business, etc. Thus, they remain unfulfilled and wondering why their lives never seem satisfactory. We are often then told that the key to evangelism is to get people to admit to this problem, show them that nothing will ever satisfy besides God, and then proceed to the gospel.
"Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee." St. Augustine
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man. Blaise Pascal
Maybe you haven't learned to call it a "God-shaped vacuum," but Pascal, a brilliant philosopher, noticed a common fact of existence... there's a spiritual dimension in each of us, waiting to be satisfied. Everyone tries to fill this void; if not with God, then with something else...relationships, money, career, GAP clothing...fill in the blank. The insatiable, unsatisfied desires of our hearts reveal that we are all missing God, even if we haven't labeled the longing like Pascal did. Have you ever wanted to know God? For a moment at least, consider the possibility that your spirit has always been longing for Him.
God's Word, the Bible, says, "For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men." Had there been any other way to save mankind, Christ wouldn't have had to die for us. Because he was without sin, he was the only one qualified to die for our sins.
One of the great historical figures in church history, Augustine, has said that in the heart of each man and woman there is a God-shaped vacuum that must be filled.
Back to the Future
Each of us has a vast library of valuable memories of a time when life held no pain. For some, those memories are all that sustain us as we struggle with life in the present.
If your storehouse of comforting memories are fading and your friends and loved ones are becoming fewer and fewer, take comfort in the fact that you are still travelling life’s journey and have yet to come home. You see, neither our childhood home nor the sweetest of life’s memories can ever compare to what is being prepared for us on the other side of this life.
Take heart, for it is written, “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man what wondrous things God has waiting for those who love Him!”
You may not believe in God or in His son, Jesus Christ, but listen for a moment to the spectacular offer that God has given to us.
Gathering His disciples together, Jesus himself said, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In my Father’s home are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”
These scriptures might have been the random musings of some human writer or a poet if it were not for the fact that about forty days after Jesus made this statement, He stood again among the many, bidding them all goodbye as they witnessed Him rising before them into the sky, back to His heavenly home.
“Well,” you say, “that would be nice, but growing up and living in this war torn miserable world, how can we believe that there really is such a place as this?”
God knew that heaven would be difficult to conceptualize in our minds since we have only known what is here on earth. This is why He gave His most prominent disciple, John, a picture of what it will be like. We are able to read this account in the book of Revelation chapter 21 to discover that it is not only possible, but in fact, very real. Here is what John saw.
“Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also, there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the Holy City, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the house of God is with men, and He will dwell with them and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.’ Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful.’ And He said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts (who searches for me’).
If you were to die today, do YOU KNOW for sure where you are going?
To see more of the writing of Douglas and Margaret Greenfield
Visit Behold His Coming.org & Hope Translated.net
Online ministries to a world hungry for the truth.
Behold His Coming is a website devoted to introducing the reality of the Lord Jesus Christ and His imminent and near return to the planet. This site equips people for what is coming, explains prophecy and details the plan of God for those who are smart enough to see that He is indeed about to make a grand re-entrance to our world.
Hope Translated.net is a website that invites all people of every language to explore who Jesus is and know His fabulous message of hope to humanity.