Summary: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit - fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name,” John 15:16. A prayer key sermon that can also serve as a witnessing sermon.
Prayer Keys - Bearing Fruit
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” John 15:16
One Wednesday, we looked at the second prayer key in this verse, asking in Jesus’ name. “Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” The first prayer key is bearing fruit, “fruit that will last… then…” our prayer will be more effective. I asked Bro. Jim to let me preach on a Sunday night for that first key because there is more that should be said than can be said adequately on Wednesday night and still leave time for prayer. I do not want to take away from prayer time at prayer meetings. I have sometimes been guilty of that, but I have sincerely tried to make prayer a priority. Thank you, Bro. Jim, for this opportunity.
Have any of you seen that list of sales ads that need proofreading? My favorite said: “For sale: parachute. Never opened. Only used once.” Only used once?… Never opened?… I have never been tempted to buy a parachute, and I am not tempted to buy that one.
The ad I want to call attention to says: “For sale: Full, new set of encyclopedias. Recently married. Wife knows everything about everything.”
As most of you know, it is possible to know about something and not be able to do that thing.
Looking at a piece of music, I know which notes are a, b, c, d, e, f, or g. I know which notes are sharp, flat, or natural. I can even find those notes on a piano, given enough time. That doesn’t mean that Sue or Martha need have any fears that I will replace them. It is possible to know about something and not be able to do that thing. It is possible to know about bearing fruit without actually doing it.
Paul may not have known “everything about everything,” but I’m sure we agree that knew about bearing fruit. He also could do ministry in a way that bore fruit.
Maybe you’ve had my experience. You’ve heard sermons on witnessing. I’ve heard sermons on witnessing. Maybe you’ve read books about witnessing. I’ve read books about witnessing. Maybe you’ve taken classes on witnessing. I’ve taken classes on witnessing. A few of you have taught classes on witnessing. I have taught classes on witnessing only to see some of my students appear to be obviously better at doing it than I was. Maybe you have been frustrated by knowing the right things to do and the right things to say, but not having the results other people say you should.
I’ve heard people guarantee that if I did things their way, on average, at least one of ten people to whom I witness would accept Christ. I remember someone preaching, “Do this faithfully every day and you will average leading someone to Christ every week.” Over a period of about 30 years, I tried to do things their way. I never had the kind of consistent success they guaranteed faithful people would have. I began to feel guilty about my lack of success. I knew I was doing it right, so the only thing I could conclude was that there was something wrong… with me. Maybe some of you know that feeling.
After years of frustration, I began to understand some common sense lessons about witnessing, including what I consider the most under emphasized fact and the most encouraging fact. I then began to better understand my role in witnessing.
The most under emphasized fact is that God created us as individuals, and He plans to use us as individuals. Somehow I was a Christian for over 30 years without applying that thought to witnessing.
As I said, this is a common sense lesson. Different people can do different things well. What works for one person may not work for another. This applies to witnessing as it applies to the rest of life. Just because some people find one approach to be the best for them does not mean they can guarantee that you or I will get the same results “if we are faithful.”
Even Jesus Himself did not use the same approach with every person. Jesus confronted the woman at the well with her sin. He engaged Nicodemus’ intellect. He was gracious to the woman taken in adultery. Jesus demonstrated that just because some people can be reached with one approach does not mean that all people can be reached with that approach.
Paul says, “I’ve become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” The Bible includes examples of a variety of approaches to witnessing. Different people witness in different ways. I need to witness according to God’s will for me and not God’s will for someone else.