Take It Personally

I thank GOD that I am saved.  I am thankful for my wife that simply prayed for her “future husband” to be saved since she was 13. I am thankful for my friend Summer, who invited me to church even though it made me mad.  I am thankful for buddy Dave, who tried to share the gospel with me when all I cared about was drinking.  I am thankful my friend Ally, who met me when I was lost and prayed for me for 4 years to get saved.  I am thankful for the Zeeler family, who met me and invited me to Victory Church.  I am thankful for the Holy Ghost, who helped me see that grave sense of loss and emptiness that the world could never satisfy.  I am thankful for a longsuffering God, and for Jesus who shed his blood for an immoral, immature, faithless fool like me.  I am thankful that these people took my salvation personally.

Nobody, myself included, trusts Christ by accident.  It takes the purposeful effort for someone to share the Gospel and provide an opportunity for someone to see their need and trust the Lord for forgiveness.

Three steps are necessary for those who will demonstrate their commitment to taking the gospel personally.

First, in order to take the gospel personally you must first PRAY FOR THE LOST.

Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;  – Colossians 4:2

 Paul urges his readers to pray for the lost and for opportunities to share the Gospel.  Therefore, Christians must continue in prayer with a serious sense of urgency: the time of the end is at hand. Without a doubt we can observe “end times” scenarios developing around us, but our theology must lead us to be more specific about our situation on God’s prophetic timeline.  According to Joel 2:28-32 and Acts 2:38-39, the beginning of the “end times” commenced on the day of Pentecost.  The outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the most outstanding (and in some ways, astounding) event that day, was the beginning of major end times events.  While thousands of years separate segments of Joel’s prophecy, we can be assured that we are simply waiting for the next major prophetic event to be realized: the rapture of the church (I Thessalonians 4:13-17).

Paul’s instructions to the Colossians resound with end times significance due to his use of watch. This command is tied with end times revelation throughout the New Testament, and its use here intensifies Paul’s exhortation to pray, calling for devotion to prayer and discernment of vital spiritual needs in accordance with all that agrees with God’s prophetic plans.

Simply put, persistent prayer is an ingredient of the church’s evangelistic mission: believers must pray that those in need of God’s salvation be converted before Christ returns.

The one thing you cannot do in heaven is lead a soul to Christ. And people can’t trust Christ without your prayers for them.

There are many things we pray for, which are necessary and legitimate.  We pray for the sick and particular situations; we pray for favor and for safety in travel; we pray for new job opportunities and good circumstances.  We don’t always know if these requests will turn out the way we want.  Despite our prayer, we do not know if people will get well, safety will be granted, or new opportunities will be afforded.  One prayer request that we know is always in keeping with God’s will is the prayer for the lost to trust Christ.  We know it is God’s will for all men to be saved.  If people do not get saved, it’s not because God willed them to be condemned.  God wants all people to be saved:

II Peter 3:8 – The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

Because God’s will is for all to be saved, the priority of God’s people must be to pray FIRST OF ALL for all men to be saved:

I Timothy 2:1, 3-4 – I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

 Time is short. The Lord is coming for His people.  We are running out of time to have opportunities to share the Gospel with others.  It’s time to take it personally.   

We have to pray more fervently now – more than ever – because our time is short. Make a personalized prayer card with the name of someone you will pray for to be saved.  What name will you put on that prayer card?  Write this statement underneath that name:

“I COMMIT TO PRAYING EVERY DAY FOR THE SALVATION OF THIS SOUL, WHO IS PRECIOUS TO CHRIST.”

Pray for the lost.  Pray for them daily.  Pray for them to trust Christ.

And PRAY FOR DIVINE APPOINTMENTS.   

Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:  That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak. – Colossians 4:3-4

The more specific object of the congregation’s prayer is that God will open a door for our message. The Colossians were asked to pray that he would find an open door. The apostle lived for such opportunities that were often the redeeming virtues of his terrible circumstances in life.

Divine appointments are those moments when God makes arrangements for people to come together for a special, specific purpose.  God works to arrange circumstances, situations, and occurrences where Christians will have an opportunity to share the Gospel with someone who needs Christ.

I’ve had dozens of divine appointments over the years; some people trusted Christ, and others got much needed guidance on how to trust Him.  One opportunity that stands out to me is with my friend “JW.”  He is a former colleague who came to work with me on my team at a former place of employment.  The funny thing was that he wasn’t even supposed to be assigned to my team.  It happened because some senior leaders were confused about different personnel and their new assignments.  Let’s just say the mass confusion at work had a productive result.  After a couple of weeks of talking and getting to know each other, JW opened up to me one day after work as we walked to the parking lot.  He was wracked with guilt over his sin with no apparent way to find forgiveness.  It was hot outside, and it had been a very long day, but we spent 45 minutes in that scorching parking lot talking about Jesus Christ and His amazing willingness and ability to save all those who trust in Him.  At the end of our discussion, JW prayed and trusted the Lord right in the parking lot!  Every time I walked by that spot I was reminded that God arranges divine appointments in some of the most unusual places.

Watchful prayer makes one keenly sensitive to people and setting. Doors of opportunity are opening all the time – we just don’t recognize it and we don’t like the form they come in.  Sometimes its a changed schedule or the adjustment of a plan.  God is clearly less concerned about our agenda than we are.  God works according to His eternal purpose and not according to our temporary ones.  Paul, WHO WAS IN JAIL, came to see the significance of the problems he faced in life – they were just more opportunities to share the Gospel

Philippians 1:12 – But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;

What’s our problem?  We simply don’t trust that a sovereign God to direct our steps appropriately.

Pray for Divine appointments – those moments when you trust our Sovereign God to direct your paths to someone who needs to hear the Gospel!

 Lastly, in order to take the gospel personally you must TAKE THE GOSPEL TO SOMEONE PERSONALLY.

Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. – Colossians 4:5-6

Praying for someone to get saved is asking for only half of the problem to get solved. We need to pray that Christians will be filled with boldness to deliver the message of the Gospel. Paul wanted to share the gospel because he knew that’s what he ought to do.  He then turns the tables and tells the Colossians to take the gospel to the lost as well.  He directs them to “walk toward them that are without” those outside of Christ.  To them we must go and preach the gospel!

Because we must walk in wisdom, we must be careful how we act toward non-Christians.  So many people have made fools of themselves that they won’t even get the chance to proclaim the gospel. Before I got saved, I was a server and bartender.  I hated working on Sundays.  Many customers on Sundays were crabby, bossy, tired Christians who were demanding and rude.  Plus, they didn’t tip very well!  My opinion of Christians was not very high…could you blame me?  Why should people listen to Christians about Christ if they don’t see Christ working in a Christian’s life?

The apostle Peter also gives us some helpful instruction:

I Peter 3:15 – But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

First, we must live right!  Sanctify the Lord God in your heart so you can live morally, ethically, and purely in the world.  Secondly, you must speak to those who are not Christians.  Be ready to give that answer of your hope in Christ.  When you do, do so graciously with some flavor! Make it sincere, heartfelt, interesting, exciting, and memorable!  There’s nothing worse than an unenthusiastic presentation of how Christ changed your life.

If we are going to take it personally, then we must pray for and act upon Divine Appointments.  One of the greatest blessings of my life has been to help many people trust Christ as their savior.  I remember many of their names, and I can still picture their faces.  Sadly, I remember the ones who rejected the Lord as well, some of whom passed away before accepting Christ.

For those who take it the gospel personally, nothing stops them from sharing the gospel with others.  They will do whatever it takes.

Paul was in prison when he wrote to the Colossians.  He simply asked for prayer so a door of utterance could be opened; he didn’t seek better circumstances.

It shouldn’t matter if it is cold, awkward, challenging, or time consuming.  Those are just excuses!  You can always dress warmly, be a silent prayer partner, learn from an experienced Christian, and prioritize your life in view of eternity.

It’s never real until it’s personal.  Take the Gospel prayerfully and personally. 

A few weeks ago I was privileged to catch up with an old friend of mine.  As we ate lunch together, he shared with me his great desire to see more people saved for Christ.  With tears in his eyes he began to tell me his personal story of his own salvation, and how he longs for more to avoid the great judgments that await the lost.  As I watched the tears roll down his face, I asked God to break my heart for those without Christ.  I decided to renew my commitment to taking the Gospel personally.

I encourage you to pray for those who need Christ.  Take their souls personally.

I urge you to pray for divine appointments.  Take the appointments personally.

I challenge you to think about those who need to hear your personal experience with Christ.  Take it to them personally.

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