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Sharing your faith can seem intimidating or awkward, but it’s a lot simpler than most of us may think. We tend to put pressure on ourselves without realizing that it’s only our job to share, and we leave the saving up to God. In this message, we learn three practical steps that can help us to become bolder when sharing our faith.
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Welcome to The Porch. My name is Josiah Jones, and I came on staff about a year ago. I want to welcome you wherever you are tuning in around the country and even the world. For our Porch.Live locations, El Paso, Texas; Houston, Texas; Boise, Idaho; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and many, many more, welcome. We are glad you're hanging out with us tonight.
I don't know if you saw. This past Sunday, our government came out and had an emergency press conference where the FDA (the Food and Drug Administration) basically called any American who had the coronavirus and defeated it… They basically said, "Hey, we want your blood plasma, because if you've had the coronavirus and you've defeated it, you have these antibodies within your blood that can help those who have the coronavirus and are sick and in the hospital and, essentially, are on their deathbed. We can help them. Honestly, we can hopefully keep them from dying."
So, this is what they came out with this past Sunday. They're asking Americans who have contracted the coronavirus and defeated it to share what they have to help those in need. I start there tonight because that's what we, as believers, Christians, are called to do. We are called to share what we have to help those who are in need. Only our virus isn't corona; our virus is sin. We have the antibodies (aka, the gospel, the good news, Jesus Christ) to defeat the sin that lies within every single one of us.
The good news is that Jesus died for your sins and rose again. Why is this good news? Because we don't have to die for our sins because Jesus did or we can choose to die for our sins. We can suffer for our sins or you can choose to believe that Jesus did. It's what theologians call the great exchange. We get what Jesus deserved, and he got what we deserved. We get life and we get an heir in his kingdom. We get a reward from a person who has lived their life perfectly.
I know anytime we talk about this idea of sharing this good news, the gospel, Jesus, it causes a lot of fear inside of us all, including myself. This idea that it's just uncomfortable. This idea of "Man, how do I do it, and if I do it, what are they going to say about me? It's kind of awkward. I don't want to be seen as the Bible-beater or the guy who's shoving Jesus down someone's throat. Honestly, I don't know what I would say if I was asked a question that I don't know the answer to. I don't want to come across as judgmental, you know, one of those people."
So, tonight, I want to walk us through the ABCs of what it looks like to share what we have as believers with those who are in need. I want to bring it down to an elementary level for people who maybe have been following Jesus for the longest time or are new to the faith or find themselves in this pandemic. They're new. They're older or younger. I want to bring us to a place where everybody, as we walk out of this place and tune off from hearing this message and jump on to cheer the Dallas Mavericks to another victory, that we know at the end of this message how to share our faith with those who are in need.
Let's start with the A. The A stands for ask. Ask God for boldness. We're going to look at a guy named Paul. He's in the Scriptures. Basically, he's a guy who, before Christ, was marked by persecuting the church and actually killing Christians. The story of Paul is a story of redemption of Jesus Christ and proof that you are never too far from the grace of God.
Some of you tuning in tonight think God doesn't want anything to do with you because of your sin and because of the struggles you continually find yourself in, that there's no way he could use you. I'd encourage you tonight to open your Bibles to Acts 9 and read the story of this guy named Paul, a guy who, so many historians say, was a persecutor of epic proportions, but then it led him to being a hope-dealer bent on spreading the gospel throughout the world.
Look at what he says in Acts 4, starting in verse 29. This is Paul, and this is a famous prayer that he and the early church prayed as the church was getting off the ground and spreading like wildfire out to the unknown parts where the gospel, the good news of Jesus, had never gone before. Look at what they pray here.
"'Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.' After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly."
Did you catch that? All because they said, "Hey, we're going to pray for boldness." Did they pray for comfort? Did they pray for convenience? No, they prayed for boldness. I believe the two greatest idols in my life and in those of us here tonight and those tuning in online are comfort and convenience. If I had to look at my sin track over the last week, I would be able to categorize them under comfort and convenience.
The times where I was short-tempered with my wife and my children were because I was inconvenienced. The times that maybe you looked at a two-dimensional image on your computer or your phone were maybe because of comfort and convenience. It's a lot easier just to look at that image and get your fill than to actually pursue a lady. I believe the two greatest idols in our lives fall under comfort or convenience.
Look right here. They didn't pray for either. They prayed for boldness to share the word of Christ. Here's how it looks for some of you. Let me just bring this down to a very ground-level view. You're sitting in your car. You're getting ready to hang out with some friends for happy hour after work one day, and you know this. They don't know that you really have a faith because you haven't talked about it. They know you, for sure, aren't going to be sharing the faith.
This is my encouragement to you, that you would pray a simple prayer. "God, would you give me boldness to open my mouth and share my faith?" You're sitting in the airport, and you're getting ready to board a plane. You know that awkward… We're really close to people. I encourage you in that moment, before you board the plane, that you would say, "God, would you please help me to be bold with this person I'm going to have to sit next to?"
You might not even do it. You might not even open your mouth, and you might not even say anything, but let me tell you, this is the start, that you would ask God for boldness to open your mouth and share the hope that lies within you. You don't have to share everything. God is not holding you accountable to know everything in this book. He's saying, "Share what you know." But you're building the muscle of boldness.
In the same way, how do you build muscles physically? You work them out. You step out and do different exercises to confuse the muscles. In the same way, God is looking at you and me, saying, "Hey, step out and do something that's going to build that spiritual muscle of boldness." Do you want to know a prayer God will answer every time? It's this prayer right here. It's the prayer for boldness to share the good news of Jesus Christ with those around us.
If you decide to pray this prayer, watch out, because God is going to put people in your path to share this with. What would it look like right now if the thousands of young adults who are tuning in, who are watching and listening to this message, would get a glimpse of this idea of asking God for boldness, praying and begging him, "God, fill me with courage"? I know he wants to use you, but the question is if you believe he wants to use you. Do you believe that he can use you?
It's this Acts 4 prayer. It goes something like this: "Lord, empower your servants to walk in love and speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand and save every young adult in Dallas, in Austin, in El Paso, in Houston, in Boise, in Northwest Arkansas, in Tulsa, in Cincinnati, in Indianapolis, in the entire country." This isn't just some pie-in-the-sky, pithy prayer that we pray. We believe he can. We believe he wants to if his people, you and I, would step out and open our mouths.
If you're not going to remember this prayer, then no worries. Take your phone out now, because we've created an Instagram story for this prayer for you to be able to save and for you to be able to put on as wallpaper on your phone, just as a reminder as you wake up and look at your phone. Don't lie. You know that's the first thing you look at when you wake up. It isn't opening that Bible. Come on. Just keeping it real up here.
The Lord would use that to remind you. "Lord, would you empower Josiah to walk in love and to speak your word with great boldness, and would you stretch out and save the young adults you're going to place in my path today?" Listen. We can never be too timid where we won't interrupt others. Several weeks ago, when we actually got to kick off The Porch and it was the first Porch back from quarantine…
The Porch had ended, and I was up here at the front just waiting for people to come forward. Nobody really did, so I bolted up to the Loft. That's where we have First Step. It's an opportunity for people to get connected to the church and also connect to Christ. There was a guy who got up in the middle of it, and he was on his way out. I just thought, "God is calling me to go talk to this guy."
So I went up to him and said, "Hey, man. What's your name?" He was like, "Oh, it's Hunter." I'm like, "Great to meet you, man. My name is Josiah. I'm glad you're here. Is this your first time?" He was like, "As a matter of fact it is." I was like, "You're in the right place. Hey, do you have time? I'd love to hear your story. What's your story?" He began to share his story, and I'm like, "Hey, man. This isn't a question that's unique to you. I ask this question a lot when I'm out in the city and I come across young adults or I'm here at The Porch."
I just said, "Hey, Hunter, do you have a faith? If I were to ask you, 'What is the gospel?' what would you say?" He was like, "Honestly, Josiah, I don't know." I said, "Do you have a few minutes? I'd love to share that with you." So we just stepped over to a quiet place, and I began to share the gospel with him. I couldn't even get to finish the full gospel. I got to the part where we started talking about sin, and he just began to weep.
I said, "What are you crying about? Walk me through. What's going on?" He's like, "I just don't get it." I'm like, "What do you not get?" He said, "I don't understand how God could ever forgive me. I'm a drug addict trying to get clean. I have a sexual past that would make you blush. I've stolen, cheated. I'm trying to climb the next ladder of success at the expense of running over people."
I said, "Hunter, what part of the cross isn't enough to forgive you? The part where Jesus had nails that were pierced in his hands for every time your hands have gone to places they should never have gone? How about the nails that were pierced in his feet for every time your feet have gone to places they should never have gone? What about the crown of thorns placed right above his eyes for every time you've looked at things and I've looked at things and thought of things we shouldn't have looked at or thought of? The sword that was pierced in his side for every time your heart hardened itself toward God?"
I said, "What part of the cross isn't enough to forgive you?" He just started weeping more. I said, "There isn't! The cross is enough. It's sufficient for forgiveness." Right then and there, by God's grace, nothing I did, he called out to God and said, "God, I need you. Will you save me from my sin and from myself?" When did we forget that the gospel is enough? When did we forget that the gospel is enough to save people?
Listen. I've missed so many opportunities to share because of busyness and fear of rejection, of what will happen, discomfort, and "I just need to build a better relationship." Here's what I know: the longer I go without sharing my faith with someone, the greater the odds that I won't share with them. Did you catch that? The longer you go… And you just share what you know. You don't have to have everything together, but the longer you go, the greater the odds that you won't share with that person.
About a year ago, before I moved here to Dallas, I lived in Kansas City. I had some neighbors, and they happened to be gay. I just remember God was beating on my chest, just prompting me day in and day out, week in and week out. "Hey, you need to go talk to them. You need to go share. You need to have them over for dinner. Just build a bridge. Talk to them." I just remember saying, "No, God. They're not going to listen. No." I just rejected it week in and week out, day in and day out, year in and year out.
This book we read every time we have The Porch… Do you know what it says to pray for? Boldness. Boldness to share. It's our job to share, but it's God's job to save. We share; God saves. We don't have to worry about what happens after we share. Some of you think, "I'm just going to screw it up." You're not going to screw it up, I promise you. People are not going to go to hell because you didn't say the right thing.
God can use you in spite of you. In spite of you not being eloquent enough or you not having enough information, God can use you. You just share. You just open your mouth. It's God's job to save. It's our job to share. I see friends getting discouraged when they step out in faith and do share and the person doesn't come to Christ. The scoreboard for evangelism is sharing, not saving. That's God's job. Rest easy knowing you're faithful.
D.L. Moody, a great evangelist… In other words, he was just a guy who would be out preaching the gospel in the nineteenth century, and thousands and thousands of people would flock to hear him teach. A woman came up to him, and she had some beef with D.L. Moody. She's like, "I just need to tell you something. I don't like how you share the gospel. I don't like how you share the message of Jesus."
D.L. Moody in response said, "I kind of don't like how I share it either, so maybe you can help me. How do you share it?" She says, "I don't." To which he said, "Well, hey, I like how I share it more than I like how you don't share it." I just think that's brilliant. He just said, "Well, I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it." This is what God is saying to us tonight. As we ask for boldness, the goal is sharing. The goal isn't saving. The goal is just to open your mouth.
This is Paul's plea in Acts 20:24, where he says, "But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God." He says, "My life is worth nothing. I don't count my life of any value…it's not precious to myself…if only I may finish the course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus." What is that ministry? The grace you and I have received when Jesus hung on that cross and paid for our sin.
So, the A stands for ask. Ask God for boldness. The B stands for build. Build bridges to share. The same guy, Paul, in 1 Corinthians 9:22-23 says, "To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel…" Paul is saying, "Hey, it's the gospel, the good news, that motivates me to meet people right where they are, to give up my preferences, to put my needs to the side and take up their desires and their needs and to meet the people wherever they are in life."
There are three bridges we can build with people that I've seen to be effective in my life. One of the bridges we can give people is our time. It's to have margin in our day where we can walk slowly through the crowds. We can never be too busy to allow others to interrupt us. Second is ask questions. I love this. Questions disarm people. They're not ready to box you. When you make statements, statements arm people.
They're ready, like, "Oh, I'm about to see where you're going with that." They're going to jab, and they're going to fight back, and they're going to press. But do you know what questions do? They disarm the conversation. They build relationships. Do you know how Jesus answered people? He answered them with questions. Twenty-three times, people asked Jesus questions about the kingdom, and then he answered them back with questions.
I find this to be a really powerful tactic when I'm talking with people. "Hey, what's your story? I'm just curious. Do you have a faith?" Do you know that one question can change the world, and it has? Now we're talking. Now we've just changed the conversation from the natural to the spiritual. "Do you have a faith? I'm just curious. If you were to stand before God and he said, 'Why should I let you into heaven?' what would you say?"
I get this a lot. "Well, Josiah, what happens if someone asks me about homosexuality?" "I don't know. What do you think about homosexuality? What do you think the Bible says?" Gay marriage. "What do you think?" I put the question back in their court. "What do you think?" Most people want to talk about themselves. "What do you think about evolution?" "I don't know. What do you think?" Now we're just talking. Now we're just conversing. I don't have to have all of the answers. I don't have to be the know-it-all. There are too many of those. I just have to care.
Many of you have probably heard this before, but it's called the Columbo tactic. It's "What did you mean by that?" You're in conversation with someone, and they kind of catch you off guard, or maybe they say something that just seems wrong. "Hey, what do you mean by that? How did you come to that conclusion? Hey, have you ever considered studying the claims of Christ? Have you ever considered why Jesus reset the calendar on your iPhone right now? Have you ever considered?"
Third, meet needs of those around you. Right now, if you live in Dallas, you can go to www.watermark.org/servethecity and find all of the different needs during this crazy pandemic that we find ourselves in, and you can serve the people around you. Or you heard JD earlier in the announcements. We're coming back. The Porch is back. You can go to theporch.live/connect, and you can jump in with us next week and start serving with us. You can start that process.
When I first came to Christ, I didn't just want to show up and sing a few songs and listen to a message and leave. If nobody ever called me to engage in the mission, the battle that's at hand, the battle of good and evil, sin and darkness, heaven and hell… If nobody ever called me to do that, I think I would have found something else to give my life to.
Let me just share with you how these bridges played out over the last week. It was this past Friday, and I was tired. The week was just coming to a close, and I was ready to get home early and see my wife and hang out with my little girls. I have a 3- and a 2-year-old right now. I came across a gentleman. I knew God was calling me to step into this conversation.
This guy happened to be transgender, a guy who is claiming to be a girl. He literally dresses like it. He went through the whole surgery. We began to talk, and I said, "Hey, can I get you a cup of coffee?" So I bought him a cup of coffee, and we sat down with a couple of other friends. I just said, "Hey, man, what's your story? Where did you grow up? How did you get here? How did you hear about Watermark?" He began to engage, and he began to share.
He said, "Before I go into anything, I just need you to know that I'm a registered sex offender who spent 20 years in prison for abusing my daughter." Without batting an eye… I looked at the other two. They didn't bat an eye. We just said, "Thank you for your honesty. We're broken. We're jacked up. We're sinners too, but we know the person who can save us from any sin, and his name is Jesus." We just began to engage in a conversation.
Shortly after sharing the gospel with him, I looked at him and said, "Hey, do you think you could ever find worth and value in being a man again?" He said, "I don't know, man. I was abused sexually by my mom over and over and over, raped by her. Another family member did the same thing to me, so I don't want anything to do with being a man. I'm so much more comfortable being a woman."
I said, "I get it. I understand that. You're not crazy for feeling that and thinking that. But I just want you to consider. Would you consider the God of the universe who has done so much, who has put breath in your lungs, given you a heart that beats right now…? Could you consider him placing value and giving you worth again as a man?" He said, "I don't know, but I'll consider it." I said, "How about I host you on Sunday at church?" and he came on Sunday. He sat right up here in the second-tier seating, and we got to continue the conversation.
Listen. When did we stop believing that the gospel could change lives? When did we start believing that this message of Jesus is outdated and antiquated and can't intersect people of all different races and backgrounds and ethnicities and economic status? The gospel is enough. The good news of Jesus can intersect any situation.
So, the A stands for ask. Ask God for boldness to share. The B stands for build. Build bridges to share. The C stands for carry. Carry a burden to share. This word burden just means a difficult situation, a weight, a duty to something, a call on your life that you can't shake. The same guy we've been talking about all night is Paul, and in Romans 9:1, this is what he says.
"I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit—I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart." What kind of anguish do you have, Paul? Why do you have this anguish? What is this sorrow coming from? He says in verse 3, "For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race…"
He says, "This is what I'm burdened by. I'm anguished. I'm in sorrow." Did you catch that? He had such a burden for his brothers and sisters that he would go to hell in order for them to be able to go to heaven. Paul is saying he has distress and he has pain in his heart for the lost, those who are far from Jesus. He wishes he himself could take their hell.
I don't know how you get there. I'm just being honest. I want to shoot you straight. I'm not there. I'm not taking anyone's hell, but Paul came to a place in his life where he began to be so burdened for his people who didn't know Christ. Let me ask you. Have you ever carried a burden with you because life started to get "lifey"? Have you ever become so anguished and had this sorrow in your body that you couldn't shake because life just started to get lifey?
About two and a half years ago, my wife Cathy and I received a phone call from her sister Jenny. It was one of those phone calls you never want to get. We knew she was going in for some tests, and we didn't know everything that was going on in her body, and neither did she, but she called us. I remember it like it was yesterday.
She said, "Hey, I have some news I want to share with you." On the other side of the phone, we began to listen in, and she said, "I just found out I have colon cancer." She was 33 years old at the time, and she found out she had colon cancer. I remember in that moment feeling this unbelievable weight come over my life personally, my marriage, my family, because of what my sister-in-law Jenny was going through.
I remember jumping on the phone with her husband Alex shortly after, and I remember just sitting there trying to listen and help him process all of the emotions and the flood of feelings that come with the word cancer. Some of you get it. Some of you maybe have had cancer or your loved one has gone through cancer.
I remember listening to Alex on the other side of the phone, and I just remember him saying, as he was weeping, "Josiah, I know where this is headed. I know what's going on. I understand where this is going. She's going to have to go under the knife, and they're going to have to remove the tumor. I want so badly for me to be that guy. I want to take her place. I want that tumor to be in me so I can be the one to go under the knife and have the surgery."
Then he said, "I just want to be the one to go through the chemo. I want to be the one to take on this weight my wife is having to carry." He was so burdened by it that he would do anything to stop it if it was in his ability to take it on himself. In the same way, Paul is saying, "I see where this is headed for every person who lives their life without following Jesus and then dies and ends up in hell for all of eternity."
I know hell isn't a popular subject to talk about, but my plea tonight is that if God allowed sin into heaven, what would heaven look like? It would look a lot like this world, broken and shattered and jacked up, so he can't, because he's holy. He's perfect. So he must assess a penalty for your sin and my sin.
I remember understanding this weight as I read Romans 9:1-3 and this burden Paul carried because of the eternity his brothers and sisters would face if they lived their entire lives apart from Christ. It moved Paul to a place of love and compassion for people. It shouldn't move us to a place where we hang out on the corner of the street and hold up signs saying, "Turn or burn." You've seen those people on megaphones. They're unhelpful at best. It does more harm than good. It should move us to a place of love and compassion.
In the same way, Paul says, "I'm willing to give up my place in heaven if that means for someone else to take my place in heaven. I'm willing to give up my place in heaven, and I'll take their place in hell." Wow. I read that, and I'm like, "Lord, you've got ground to take in my heart. You've got work to do in this body." When was the last time you were burdened to share Jesus with your lost friends, your coworkers, your neighbors, complete strangers? And not just burdened, but it led you to action?
Listen. I know it's hard. I'm not standing up here thinking that it's easy. "Just go do it. Pull your bootstraps up and white-knuckle this." No, it's a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. I'm proposing tonight that you would start with praying, because this is what I know. We'll never be burdened for what we're not praying for. That you would pray that prayer, "God, make me bold." Before you step into an environment, whether it's the restaurant you're going to eat at tonight or the office you're going to walk into tomorrow, that you would just say a simple prayer. "God, make me bold. God, I'm available."
As I close, do you know what else is crazy about my sister-in-law Jenny? She was also pregnant at the time, pregnant with her first child. Some of the doctors and the medical team came up to her after she was diagnosed and said, "Hey, we believe it's in your best interest to abort this child. That would save your life, because you're going to have to go through radiation if you're going to defeat this cancer. You're not going to defeat this cancer apart from going through this radiation."
I don't know if you know much about the medical field, but you can't go through radiation when you're pregnant. You can go through chemo, but you can't go through radiation. She just looked at them and said, "I understand. That's kind of logical. I get that, but I'm a Christian, and I believe the life in my womb is just as important as my life, and I'm going to trust God in this. I'm not going to abort the baby, and we're going to trust God even if it costs my life, even if it's uncomfortable."
"I'm willing to put my life at risk in order to save the child who's in me." That's what she was saying, in a sense. "Even if there are all sorts of complications and risks later on." She had a mission, and that mission was to save her child's life. In the same way, Jesus had another mission, and that mission was to seek and save the lost.
He gave up the comforts of heaven, the conveniences he had in heaven, and he took up a cross here on earth, because he was on a rescue mission for you and me, because the cross is the only sufficient payment for your sin and my sin. Somebody had to die, and an imperfect person couldn't die for imperfect people. It had to be a perfect substitute, and the only one who has walked this earth and been perfect in thought, word, and action is Jesus.
If you're not a Christian, there's a reason you go to bed every night and ask that question, "Is that it? Is that all life is?" If you're not a Christian, you know that enough is never really enough. There's this hole inside of your heart that you're looking to fulfill, and you think you're going to satisfy it with climbing the corporate ladder and making a million dollars by the time you're 30.
Or you're going to find Mr. Right, and you guys are going to find that house with the white picket fence, and you're going to have that perfect family, which there isn't one. News flash. You're going to chase one thing after another after another, only to find that it's never enough. You can have everything in this world and still miss out on what life is all about. Others of you know the hope of Christ, but what are you doing with it? Wake up! Get on mission.
You have been placed here in Dallas, Texas, or somewhere else that you're tuning in tonight, and God has given you everything you need…your time, your talents, your treasures, your relationships, your job, your good looks, your smarts, your days off, your breakups, your pain, your wins, your joys in life…everything he has given you…so that you would leverage and use it to know him and make him known. That's my prayer for you tonight. Let me pray that you would.
God in heaven, we need you. As I pray this prayer, I think about my own inadequacies. God, I think about the times where I've gotten it right, and I think about the times I've gotten it wrong. In no way do I ever want to stand up here and think that I have it all together. I'm broken. I'm a sinner in need of you every day.
The gospel, the good news of Jesus, is just as important to me today, just as relevant for me today as it was 15 years ago when I gave my life to you. So, God, I pray that we would be men and women who ask you for boldness, who build bridges to share, and who carry a burden to share, and, God, you would use us in spite of us for your glory, for our joy, and for the world's good. It's in Christ's name we pray, amen.