“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8
The past several nights, the topic for the Ten Days of Prayer have really been God’s witnessing plan for each and everyone of His followers.
Think about it – first you must receive the Holy Spirit and submit ourselves to Him. When we accept Christ, allowing Him to work in us and we abide in Him than we can more than conquerors over all that hinders us from receiving the joy of obedience to God’s direction and counsel. We develop the great desire to be a blessing to all those around us, starting with our immediate family and then on to our church family. Now, we are going to dwell on how we can reflect Christ to our neighbors which, if we’re honest, is anyone we come into contact with. It means that, when you abide in Christ and He in you, you can reflect Him to the world.
But let’s start a bit smaller. Do your next door neighbors know that you love Christ? Have your interactions with them been ones of blessing? Have you interacted with them at all?
This is a topic of particular interest to me because even though I’ve lived in the same house for over twenty years, I don’t know my neighbors. As a child, I used to blame this on the fact that we didn’t have a dog because the only time I ever saw the other neighbors interacting was when they met each other walking their pups. Of course, being the outgoing person I am, I could have come up with another reason to visit my neighbors, but there weren’t many other kids around to play with and my parents didn’t necessarily want me knocking on doors by myself… As time went on, I realized that I grew up in this quiet, safe, cute neighborhood and knew absolutely NOBODY.
There were some faces I knew, again from seeing them walk their dogs, but no names. I’d wave as I drove by, off to school, or work, or church. Kids come every once in a while selling Girl Scout cookies or similar things and I’ve seen them grow up from a distance, not knowing anything about their lives. It was sad to me, and I felt ashamed.
A couple of years ago, I decided I wanted to make a change and started thinking of ways to interact with my neighbors. Some attempts were semi-successful and others flat out failed. I’m an extrovert, but can become extremely nervous and intimidated just prior to doing something that may be uncomfortable or awkward so there were often times when I decided to do nothing. We were fine in our existence – each doing our own thing, not getting involved in anyone else’s business.
But is this complacent, passerby existence really what Christ wants? I’m not saying that we are to get in each other’s business, and we’re definitely not supposed to shoving religion down anyone’s throat, but we need to be connected and open to sharing Jesus at anytime with those who are welcoming and receptive.
I was blessed this afternoon to have an unexpected encounter with my next door neighbor as she was leaving her home for a walk with her dog and toddler. We talked about the fact that I just graduated and am looking for work, she told me that she’s expecting here second child. We talked about her little boy, for whom all the world was new and exciting, about what we’re doing for the long weekend, and all sorts of other things. Pleasant, relaxed, natural.
Perhaps someday we’ll have a chance to talk about faith, but first I have to get to know her. Not get to know her because I want to convert her – anyone with that mindset has it all wrong. I want to know her and her family because they are children of God and worthy of friendship. I pray that God will bless as this year continues.
If I remain in Him and He in me, there are things sure to happen that I can’t even imagine right now. But that’s all part of the journey.
If you’ve never interacted with your neighbors, maybe it’s time to pray that God will give you an opportunity to do so. Ask to be a blessing in their lives. I promise that if you ask, He will answer.
“The true, honest expression of a sister, or brother, or friend, given in genuine simplicity, has power to open the doors of hearts which need the fragrance of Christlike words and the simple delicate touch of the spirit of Christ’s love.” EGW, My Life Today, p. 178.
Praise God for His kindness, goodness, and gentleness.
Praise God that He chose to use you to reach out to souls that thirst for the water of life.
Ask God to show you which sins to confess openly and which to confess privately. Claim His victory over those sins.
Pray for forgiveness for times when you were ashamed to share your faith with others. Ask God to give you courage and love through Christ abiding in you.
Thank God that He forgives you according to 1 John 1:9.
Ask God to give you a burden for souls and a love for His lost children.
Ask God to put in your neighbors’ hearts a hunger and a thirst for Him.
Ask the Lord to fill you with His Holy Spirit and to teach you how to reach your neighbors through acts of love, by ministering to their needs, by winning their confidence, and by inviting them to follow Jesus.
Pray that you experience the joy of sharing Christ.
Pray for an attractive, Christ-like character that will draw people to Jesus.
Pray that God will teach you how to point people to Jesus, not to yourself.
Pray for the increased use of Christian literature by all church members and for increased emphasis on literature evangelism, both through hard copy and electronic formats.
Pray for renewed emphasis on the tremendous importance of attending Sabbath School, which focuses on fellowship, mission, Bible study, and local outreach.
Pray for an increased emphasis on small-group outreach, so that all members are participating in personal witnessing and proclaiming God’s great truth in these last days.
Pray that church leaders can be a good witness to their neighbors.
Ask God for boldness to witness for Him in every circumstance.
Pray for a heightened focus on media outreach, leading to a massive, integrated evangelistic witness around the world.
Pray for any personal needs you have.
Thank God that He is working in the lives of your family, friends, and neighbors.
Thank God that He has people in every city who are wistfully looking to heaven!
Thank God that He is working in the hearts of all the people you have been praying for.
May you be blessed!