The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady
I confess – I love alliteration. It is probably corny but it makes me smile. Besides, it makes it E’sy to remember. This blog post is about the 6 E’s of Divine Encounters. At events geared specifically to evangelism, we spend most of our time doing just 1 of the E's, Evangelism. During these journeys though, God sends at least 6 different kinds of Divine Encounters – which I’m pretty sure include all the 4 meanings of salvation as described in yesterday’s blog post as well as the rest of the Great Commission.
In the last 3 days, I’ve had at least 3 evangelism encounters. Two heard about Jesus and took the Jesus Challenge, which is to ask the Jesus you don’t believe in to prove He is real. One prayed and asked Jesus to be her Savior. Evangelism is proclaiming to the lost what the word of God says about salvation and inviting them to meet Jesus.
Exhortation is a little like fussing at someone but for other Christians only, with Holy Intentions, always over a clear Bible principle, and under the clear direction of the Holy Spirit. Shiloh and I were at Wal-Mart on Monday night doing our usual “thing” of asking people where they are going in the next life.
“I think I’m going to heaven but I sure haven’t been to church very much,” a woman said.
“When you get to heaven and God asks why He should let you into heaven, what would you tell Him?” I asked.
“Because I’ve asked Him to be my Lord and Savior,” she answered quickly. “But I won’t have to tell Him because He will know me.”
“So you know the answer. If Jesus is your Savior, you’re right. What has you doubting it?”
“I don’t really. I think I feel guilty for not going to church.”
“Guilt is the enemy’s favorite weapon to make us doubt our salvation. Why aren’t you going to church?”
“Because I moved here to help my daughter and I have to drive my granddaughter to work on Sundays.”
“You’ve made this conversation easy. The Holy Spirit is talking to you. Do what it takes to get back into church. God wants you in church – the word of God says it and the Holy Spirit is leading you to it. Find a church that works with your schedule – churches have gotten very creative with church times – but get back in church!”
“You’re right,” she said. “I will.”
Let me repeat - exhortation is only for Christians. It is telling someone a truth that resonates with what the Holy Spirit is already saying. It is NOT giving someone your opinion about what they should do – it is encouraging them to be obedient to the word of God and what the Holy Spirit is saying to them. To non-Christians, the Bible says this would seem foolish so don’t waste your time and get yourself in trouble for nothing.
“Do you know what an evangelist is?”
“No,” answered the young woman who had just asked what I did.
“An evangelist helps people come to faith in Jesus Christ by giving them the good news of what Jesus has done for them. I travel the country helping people meet Jesus. Do you know where you are going in the next life?”
She didn’t but now she does. In this case, educating her about what evangelism was became the doorway to her meeting Jesus. By the way – the purpose of this blog post is education.
This is about easing pain. “My husband died five years ago,” a woman said, shaking her head as if she could shake away the still raw grief. When I care enough to look for it, most people reveal in the first five minutes what is hurting them the most. It is as if physical or emotional pain follows them like a cartoon rain cloud showing up in every square regardless of where they are.
“I’m so sorry,” I said touching her shoulder.
“It’s been a long time,” she said, literally stepping back.
Moving closer I said, “But it still hurts. Do you know the Great Comforter?” She did but she had forgotten and needed a reminder.
The point of these encounters isn’t to offer human comfort – it is to help them allow the Holy Spirit to ease their pain. We usually have about 60 seconds to respond or in their hopelessness, they will also shake off our attempts to help. Speak scripture – it won’t return void. Pray with them for comfort. Ask others to pray for them. I have a collection of grief scriptures on my website and usually carry a give-away grief scripture card.
“Have you read your Bible yet today?” I asked after bragging on two 13-year-old girls for so clearly stating their faith in Jesus. They stopped their bikes and laid their fishing gear on the ground to pet a barking Shiloh. They were cousins, born again, knew they were going to heaven, and had been baptized by their born again grandfather.
“Not yet,” one smiled and quickly answered. Great answer – truthful but offered me hope they would take the encouragement I’d just offered.
“The bay you are headed to is beautiful.” I held up my iPhone. “My Bible is on this phone. I was just there reading it and praying and saw some others fishing. Make sure you take your Bible the next time you go fishing.”
“We will!” they said happily as they picked up their poles and bait and rode away.
There is a fine line between encouragement and exhortation and it is all about motive. I was truly impressed with these sweet and faithful girls and didn’t want them to miss what I had just experienced at that bay. It wasn’t about obedience. I wanted to help them to soar as if on eagles wings.
“I won’t go anywhere!” Her speaking tempo had increased. Her tone dropped at least two steps. Her eyes narrowed. She’d just been relaxed and giving me friendly advice about the town. When I told her I was a Christian and asked where she was going in the next life, everything changed. When something changes that fast, I know I’m dealing with the enemy.
“Who do you say Jesus is?”
“He is just a man! Not God.”
“If Jesus were really the truth, the way, and the life as He said he was, and no one came to the Father except by Him, would you want to know it?”
“Not really,” she said. It wasn’t a no and she didn’t ask me to stop so I continued.
“If all who called on the name of Jesus could be saved for all of eternity, would you want to know it?”
She softened and paused for just a moment. “I don’t know.” That was it – what I call the Holy Spirit hook. It was permission to take it one more step.
“That wasn’t a no. It is enough for you to take the Jesus challenge.”
“What is that?”
“Ask Jesus – the Son of God – the Jesus you don’t believe in if He is real. Ask Him to prove it to you beyond your ability to disbelieve.”
She agreed. Her agreement was enough. I left before she could take back her commitment.
The secret to dealing with the enemy is pray silently to bind the demons, show no outward fear – which means to take no offense or argue with what they say, and to speak scripture. The enemy has no power over us if we arm ourselves with prayer and scripture. The second we begin to argue with the enemy, we've already lost.
In summary, all of these encounters and more happened in the last three days and while I haven’t had as much sleep as I normally require, I feel as if I am soaring on eagle’s wings. When we wake up to prayer, meditation, and Bible study and ask God to send us out, He does. It feels like automatic doors open up before us in any direction we head. Don’t miss it.
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