By Anne Peterson, Crosswalk.com
When I first met my Bible teacher, Lois Peterson, in a home Bible study, she had countless passages of scripture committed to memory. But before I ever heard her quote verses, I could tell she was a woman who knew the Lord personally. She didn’t just quote verses, but instead she lived them.
When you’ve learned to trust God in many areas, verses are more than ‘quotes’ to you. But they may not be as well-received by others until you’re willing to commit them to your life in practical ways.
Share God’s Faithfulness in Your Life
Of course, sharing scripture is powerful, and quoting Philippians 4:19 to someone by saying “you can be sure that God will take care of everything you need” has great potential. But it’s possible that going a bit further can be even more effective. Try sharing a real example of how God showed up in your life to supply a need for you, no matter how small or unique.
Even though you know God is Jehovah Jireh (the Lord will provide), the person you are talking to may be struggling with believing God will come through for them. Showing them how God does that in real life speaks volumes.
For example, my husband, Mike, and I were attending a conference in Switzerland, when he was stationed in Germany. I was sledding with our son, Nathan, and Mike was ready to take a picture of us. All of a sudden, our sled veered towards a barbed-wire fence. I knew I had to stop quickly, so I did the only thing I could think of: I used my hand. Unfortunately, my little finger paid the price.
We had to find a doctor quickly, but we didn’t have any extra money. In fact, our way to the conference had been gifted by someone. On my way to the doctor, I opened the door to our hotel room. On the floor, right outside our room was a chocolate bar with 50 Deutschmarks tucked in the wrapper!
So when I share with someone about God being Jehovah Jireh, this is one of my many stories I share. And I’m confident you have some to share as well.
Sharing how God provides encourages others to stretch their faith muscles. The illustrations help our listener to better understand a little more of God’s character in this area.
Pray with the Person
Often when we are sharing verses with someone, it is because they need encouragement of some kind. If we were to stop and pray for the person they would feel valued. While offering to pray for someone is good, stopping and doing it at the moment can be even better. It gives them the immediate example that their prayer request will not be forgotten.
Then too, when we see God’s answer to our prayers, we can also rejoice with the person and show them how praise is also an important part of our faith.
I will never forget the time I first visited a large church in the next town. We were going through a very difficult time in my life when I saw the pastor of the church in the lobby. He introduced himself and I quickly shared I needed prayer and what we were going through. Instead of directing me to someone else, this pastor stopped right then and said, “Let’s pray right now.”
I decided right then if that church’s pastor took the time to pray for someone he didn’t even know, it was my kind of church family. I felt valued instead of just being someone who sat in one of the seats.
Spend Time with the Person
People can tell if they matter to you. So while you may know many verses about hospitality and welcoming others, it’s powerful when you put it into practice. And while what we have to share is important and can be life-changing, the listener needs to feel valued to hear what we are saying.
One day after church I remember feeling as if we needed to invite this new couple over for lunch. I was tempted to dismiss the idea when I realized I didn’t have anything special to serve, just hot dogs. But that couple felt very welcome in our home with that simple meal. It was the first invitation they had received. And we had an opportunity to begin a relationship, where they felt a little less alone in our church.
When we invest the time to get to know someone, it opens doors. We stand on level ground and create an atmosphere where sharing is invited. We may have extended the invitation, but all of us tasted the fellowship. And that is the best environment for growing faith.
Share How God is Changing You
James 1:22 tells us we are not to merely listen to the Word, but to do what it says. Perhaps it would be a good rule of thumb to share the verses that God is teaching us. At times, God nudges us to share even difficult truths. Sharing verses alone is less messy, but when we share hard stories as well, the listener tends to remember them.
Once I shared that God was teaching me that I didn’t honor my husband. This was difficult to share because I was showing them something less than desirable. But being vulnerable is what makes others feel safe enough to admit they also have weaknesses.
Another time, while speaking to a large group of women, I felt God nudge me to share about the time I was bitter.
“You want me to talk about what?” I asked God. But I heard him loud and clear. I decided he must have had a good reason, so I shared exactly what he asked me to share. Imagine my surprise when after my session a woman came up to me and said, “You were talking about me!”
Let God Lead You
When we are sharing with someone about God, we need to ask for his help. God tells us in 1 Samuel 16:7, that man looks on the outward appearance, God looks on the heart. God knows exactly where the person is in their spiritual journey. The most we can do is guess. We can listen for God’s leading when we are speaking to others about him. It says in Proverbs 3:5-6, that if we acknowledge him in all our ways, he will direct us. This is something we can count on.
God’s Word is powerful, and it will not return void. It will accomplish what it is meant to do, as it says in Isaiah 55:11. But we need to listen to the Holy Spirit as we share truths that further demonstrate His promises.
Only God is infinite and all-knowing. He tells us that our ways and our thoughts do not match up with his in Isaiah 55:8-9. We would be foolish to not let him lead. After all, he’s the one who created the very people we are talking to. He knows exactly what they need to hear.
Living Your Faith Can Plant Seeds and Ripen Others’ Faith
When I did attend that first home Bible study I referred to, I was ready to receive the truth. And sitting in that basement, surrounded by people who were kind and welcoming, created just the right place for me to receive.
God brings different people in our lives for different purposes. Some plant seeds, until we are ready to finally make a decision. Lois told me, “You were like a piece of ripened fruit, all I needed to do was gently lower you to the ground.”
God knows the exact moment we are ripe to choose him. And in Luke 15:10, it says that there is a party in heaven when it happens.
It’s true, we can just quote verses we know. And some of us know quite a few. But why not take the time to listen to the Holy Spirit’s leading, to let the person we are with feel they are valued, to ask God to give us his words for each moment, and to be praying as we speak?
We have the privilege of sharing the very words God breathed. Shouldn’t that make us a little more careful?
A Prayer for Those Who Share Scripture:
Father, I pray you help us as we share your Word with wisdom. Help us to wait for your leading. God, you know the hearts of those we talk to. You made those hearts. Help us to not run ahead of you, nor to get behind and try to force things to happen. You tell us in Galatians 5:25 to keep in step with your Spirit. Show us how to do that, Lord. And we thank you for your precious Word and that you have given it to us to share with others, so that one day they may also know you, personally. We pray this in your Son, Jesus’ precious and Holy name. Amen.
Anne Peterson is a regular contributor to Crosswalk. Anne is a poet, speaker and published author of 15 books, one of which is: Broken: A story of abuse, survival, and hope, Sign up for Anne’s newsletter at www.annepeterson.com and click on free Ebooks to choose one.Connect with Anne on Facebook. Anne’s latest book, Always There: Finding God’s Comfort Through Loss is now available.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/MangoStar-Studio