His Omnipotent Mercy
by Lonnie Lane
The word for vision in Hebrew is machazeh and means at the root to gaze at, mentally to perceive, contemplate (with pleasure), specifically to have a vision of, to behold (which means to look with understanding), to prophesy and to see. We are given visions of things which will either increase our faith or decrease our faith. Few visions are neutral. If they come from God, they are meant to increase our vision of Kingdom realities and possibilities. I pray as you read all the stories of God-encounters with people below they will enable you to “envision” the great possibilities for which God has already equipped you for Kingdom expansion.
We are given visions of things which will either increase our faith or decrease our faith.
Seven weeks ago, as of the date of this writing, the Lord showed up in my home congregation. Not that we hadn’t been blessed and privileged to have His manifest presence with us before. If we are at all “seeker friendly,” as the expression goes, it is to seek Him and to believe His Word as Abraham did who was counted as His friend because of his faith in Him. “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness, and he was called the friend of God“ (James 2:23) Our aim has not been to avoid offending people with too strong a Gospel message, as the term “seeker friendly” often means, but to offer a Gospel that sets people free to live in the liberty Yeshua (Jesus) bought for us with His blood. Our passion and desire has been to worship Him and live our lives before Him in an uncompromised way so as to “lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us” (Hebrews 12:1) and to be a church where we don’t continue to struggle month after month, or year after year with the same sins that keep us from His freedom and joy.
Gosh, that sounds so self-determining, even arrogant and super-spiritual, and probably brings up pictures in your mind of some legalistic somber religious pursuit of perfection. But I assure you, that is definitely not the case. What we’ve been blessed with is a sweet longing for His presence and great joy when it (He!) comes. What we have experienced in these past seven weeks is an unprecedented desire to be wholly His! With this comes an acute awareness of His holiness, and of how far from it we are, along with a great swelling appreciation for His grace and the kindness of His intentions toward us in our weakness. His is Omnipotent Mercy!!
With this new and deeper sense of His grace and goodness came a corresponding desire to want other people to know Him this way. I’ve been in revivals or renewals before. I was smack-dab in the midst of what we called the “Toronto Blessing” in the 90’s from the get-go. It was glorious. It was full of joy and we saw walls that were in the church come down between denominations and racial and ethnic groups so that, at least in Philadelphia where I was living (and with people often coming from three States away to our ongoing meetings), we experienced a unity and a healing in the Body that was powerful. People did get saved, of course, but the emphasis was on “the church” and what was going on within the walls of the church with the exception of several planned outreaches when certain evangelists came to town to lead them.
This move of God which we are presently enjoying has thrust us out of the church walls. Not all of us, but many of us. We have in the past gone out on the streets to witness to people, led by our pastor, Philip Ward, who has a heart to see the lost saved. I remember shortly after I joined the church several years ago going to a rather tough area in our city where two murders had taken place and finding it very fertile ground for leading people to the Lord and close to twenty people came to the Lord that day as we knocked on doors and talked to people in the streets. My pastor, Phil Ward, calls the bus stop near a mall in our city a “fishing hole.” It’s where a number of our folks have been going out to “fish” for souls, handing out bottles of water in the heat of the day and then talking to them about the Lord. Let me share a few of the stories with you and then tell you some of my own experiences.
One of our guys had a desire recently to ask a rather warm looking bus driver if he wanted a bottle of water. “Sure.” While he stepped onto the bus which was waiting for passengers to load, he felt impressed to turn to the people on the bus and boldly presented a short version of the questions. He couldn’t go to everyone on the bus, but when he asked if anyone on the bus wanted prayer to be sure they would go to heaven, hands went up around the bus. He did a mini-explanation and then asked whoever wanted to, to pray with him out loud to accept the Lord. He has no idea how many that might have been but they did it.
That encouraged one of our women who was out at the bus stop another day with our gang, a (young) grandmother by the way, who got on a bus and just asked how many people needed a blessing that day. Hands went up again. She prayed a blessing over the whole bus and who knows what God could have done with that or how He turned things around for some of them because she released blessings upon those who acknowledged they wanted them.
But you don’t have to be at the bus stop for God to reach out to others through us.
Another of our guys, Fred, stopped an 18 year old and led him to the Lord. The young man then asked if he could borrow Fred’s cell phone as he was now late for a meeting with someone. Evidently he missed his bus during the conversation and prayer. The person he called didn’t answer. An hour later, back at the office, Fred’s cell rang. He didn’t recognize the number but answered it. It turned out to be the person the young man had called. Fred explained a young man had borrowed his phone to say he’d be late. “Oh yeah, that’s my cousin. He’ll probably be here any minute. Thanks.” The guy was about to hang up when Fred said, “Wait a minute. You were meant to call. I got a question for you….” The cousin wound up accepting the Lord too over the phone. How’s that for a divine set-up.
But you don’t have to be at the bus stop for God to reach out to others through us. A number of our ladies have been visiting five different nursing homes in our city for quite a while. They’ve had to get permission to visit the residents, but weekly they have prayed for people who have come to the Lord and many who have been healed or come out of depression over their situations, who now greet them cheerfully when they come again.
Me personally? Well, I’ll just share this week’s stories. On the way home from a late night church meeting while driving through my residential neighborhood I hit a possum. Really upsetting. After all, possums have families. Did they wonder what ever happened to him (her) that he (she) never came back home again? Were little possums left parentless? Yes, I did later pray for the possum’s family. Hitting the possum disoriented me just enough so I hit a curb and split a tire. Splat, pop. Not nice. Suddenly the front of my car was sitting on the ground. “Well, Lord,” I said. “What are you going to do with this?” I firmly believe that “all things work for good for those who love God and are called according to His purposes” (Romans 8:28). I don’t believe the devil runs my life, God does. So I was intrigued with what God would do with this. It even struck me as funny that the devil had nothing on me and with the friend who was with me, I began to laugh. I just felt God’s peace. I prayed, “Lord, I pray now for the salvation of the AAA guy I’m going to have to call tomorrow or whoever You want to touch through this, in Yeshua’s name. Amen.”
As it was 11:30 at night, I wouldn’t call till morning and I began to inch forward at about 3 miles an hour on my totally flat tire toward home. A short distance later a truck pulled up along side of me. He happened to be an off-duty AAA guy who was heading out of the community and saw me. He said he’d be happy to help me change the tire, something I have no idea how to do. OK, Lord, this must be the AAA guy we prayed for. It turned out that the spare was also flat for some reason so he couldn’t fix it. But as he was about to leave us I said, “Let me ask you a question since you’re here with us.” Well, this man knew the Lord, and he was sure he was going to heaven. So I asked him the one other question that seems to bring the picture into focus of where one is with the Lord: “So on a scale from 1-5, with one being I’m no where with the Lord and 5 being I’m really tight with the Lord, where are you?” He answered pretty quickly – 4 ½ . So what’s with the half, I asked him. Wanna give that to the Lord? “I’ve got some issues in my life,” he said. “Issues the Lord can’t take care of?” I asked. He clearly was in some conflict; something had ahold of him that he wasn’t ready to let go of. So I asked him if I could pray for him. “Yeah, thanks,” and he was about to walk away. He didn’t realize I meant I wanted to pray for him NOW! But I stopped him and he said “OK,” and I began to pray for him to be able to give whatever it is to the Lord.
Your faith soars when God lets you be His instrument to touch others like that.
Then the Lord gave me a word for him: “Son, where you’re looking you will never find the satisfaction you’re longing for. You’re mine and I will not allow you to find satisfaction or peace apart from Me. If you will come to Me and let me be your satisfaction and your peace, I will give you the desires of your heart.” He was visibly touched by the Lord. We could see the Holy Spirit all over him. Somewhat shaken, he thanked us and said goodbye and quickly got into his truck and I noticed that whereas before he was headed out of the community “into the world,” when he stopped to help us, he turned the truck around and headed for home instead. I believe the Lord turned not just his truck but his life around that night. This kind of stuff really jazzes you and you feel the joy of the Lord. Your faith soars when God lets you be His instrument to touch others like that. I even thought of going back and laying hands on the possum to see if the Lord would resurrect him (her), but …maybe not.
The car spent two days in the repair shop, longer than I would have wanted, but oh well Lord, whatever You’re doing. Finally a young man who would not have been the one to come get me from the repair shop if it had been a day earlier came to pick me up to get my car. The drive from my house to the shop is probably no more than ¼ mile. He was a nice polite young man of about 20. I introduced myself and said, “So since you’re a captive audience for a few minutes, do you mind if I ask you a question?” He didn’t mind.. “Has anyone ever told you that God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life?” He answered immediately, “No ma’am, no one ever has.” I would have thought this was a nice Christian boy, he was so clean cut. No one EVER told him God loves him. Heartbreaking. How many others are like him? So I proceeded with the questions and by the time we got to the shop, while he drove, he prayed and accepted Jesus and thanked me for telling him. “It’s like getting married,” I told him. “You say, ‘I do’ and now you belong to Him.” I gave him the shortest intro to Christianity I could in a few moments. After I paid for the repairs he followed me out to the car and there I gave him a copy of the script I had just led him through which I had on a card. I handed it to him and said, “Here, this is what we just went through. Now you can use it to lead other people you know to Jesus.” He nodded like that was the next step. I gave him a card with our church info on it and invited him to come. So the possum story tally was one recommitment, one salvation – and one new tire.
At last count this morning the number was 214 people that have prayed with us to accept the Lord just in the past seven weeks, not counting the unnumbered people on the buses or the recommitments. We now spend some time at each church service, which incidentally are now several times a week as we’re just enjoying being in worship and with each other in His presence, sharing the stories of people we’ve led to the Lord. My friend Sandy goes to another church but she came with me a few times just last week. She caught the spirit for evangelism and in the past five days or so she has shared the Lord and prayed with five different people. Each one of them turned out to be a believer but she said, “This is such fun. I used to be afraid to talk with people, but spreading the blessings of the Lord around is so easy and such a joy.”
Seeing how Sandy “caught” the anointing, I decided to share all this with you folks so you too can “catch” the vision. Since specific anointings are transferable, we’re praying it will transfer to you as you are reading this. I believe God is releasing the anointing for reaching out to people to bring them to the Lord in greater numbers than we’ve experienced perhaps since the early seventies. There seems almost a kind of urgency about it, but a joyful one with no compulsion. Just lovin’ people. It’s amazing how grateful people are for telling them about Jesus.
So in order to equip you to do the same, following is the basic “script” for what we share with people we come across. We live in the south and it’s been a hot summer already. Handing out cold water bottles is always appreciated and is an intro in a deliberate outreach. But I just talk to people I meet as I go through my day. Think of how many people you pass in a day. If you ask God to give you opportunities to talk to some, you’ll surely have them. Just open your mouth and begin to talk and God will fill you with the words. The conversations generally go something like this once I’ve had some initial interaction with them:
Can I ask you a question? Has anyone ever told you that God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life?
Answers vary from yes to no. Some people are already saved and they know the Lord and understand what you’re asking. Others do not. The next question is:
If you died tomorrow do you know for sure, without a shadow of a doubt, that you would go to heaven?”
Some have even told us they know they’re going to hell and don’t know how to avoid it; they know their lives aren’t right. They are the ones most grateful for learning there’s a way out. Others will tell you they believe they’re going to heaven. We then ask:
Why is it you’re sure you’re going to heaven?
Many will tell you it’s because they think of themselves as a good person.” And probably most of them are. But this gives us the opportunity to say:
Let me tell you what the Bible says. It says that “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Have you ever told a lie?….Then what does that make you?
Just about everyone will say, “a liar.” You can go on to other questions about lust or stealing, etc. but generally it will suffice to ask:
Have you ever blasphemed the name of God? ….How good is that then before God?
At this point, they can see that they’re ‘goodness’ won’t get them into heaven before a holy God.
God has made a way. He sent His Son Jesus to die in our place, to pay the price for our sins so that if we accept what He did for us, then the sin that separates us from God is removed and we can come into a new relationship with God that we’ve never had before. Can I pray for you?
Usually we don’t even wait for an answer but begin praying for them and then while praying ask them,
If you would like to come to know Jesus this way, then repeat this prayer after me: Lord Jesus, I thank you for dying in my place so that my sins are forgiven. I now accept what you did for me and ask you to be Lord of my life. Teach me how to live my life to be pleasing to you and a blessing to others. Please fill me with Your Spirit and Your eternal life, in Jesus’ name.
Tailor the prayer to what you’re comfortable with, of course. Personally, I’m reluctant to tell people they have a blanket ticket to heaven with one verbalized prayer but rather try to say at least one sentence that let’s them know they have to continue to walk with Him to count on going to heaven.
If people tell you that they are a Christian, you can then ask them:
So on a scale from 1-5, with 1 being you’re no-where with God, and 5 being you and the Lord are tight, where are you?
That quite often leads to an opportunity to lead them to a rededication to the Lord and a new surrender of their lives entirely to Him. I listed the questions above in such a way so that you can block out that whole area above and print it out so you can have the “script” to use as a basis for your own witnessing.
Now I know that the Lord said, “Go… and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). He didn’t just say, “Lead them to the Lord on a street corner and leave them there.” We know that. We do give people a card that tells them where we are if they want to come to church. But for the most part, we are trusting the Lord that He will take care of them and make their salvations real to them and lead them into a righteous life in Him. It seems that when we do even the least of our part, He will follow up. A case in point happened just this past week. One of our guys approached a lady at the bus stop who said she was “Saved and Spirit filled and walking with Jesus.” Then suddenly she recognized one of our young men who was with us 2 ½ years ago when we went to the outreach where those murders took place. He is actually our pastor’s teenage son. “It was him. That young man over there. I prayed with him to accept the Lord when you folks came to our neighborhood a few years ago.” She got really no-kidding saved that day when a sixteen year old prayed with her and led her to the Lord, and she has been an on-fire believer since.
If you’ve ever felt that God had called you to more than you’ve experienced so far, if you’ve never been able to get beyond limitations that have kept you from being the Spirit-filled effective believer you knew you (and He) wanted to be, then I encourage you to tap into what the Spirit of God is moving His people into – a time of partnering with Him while He reaches out to souls.
The First Great Awakening took place before the Revolutionary War. The Second Great Awakening took place before the Civil War. (To read more on the Great Awakenings go here.) In both “Awakenings” there was a move of God to bring hundreds of thousands of souls into the Kingdom. Could we be headed for a Third Great Awakening? We don’t know what’s ahead, but we can respond to the unction of the Spirit of God to share His Omnipotent Mercy.
Reprint of this article is permitted as long as you use the following; Use by permission by Messianic Vision, www.sidroth.org, 2010.
Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible Copyright ©1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, Calif. All rights reserved. Used by permission.