If your church is like the average church in America, do you ever wonder why your congregation isn’t regularly welcoming new believers? Perhaps 1 Thessalonians 1:5 might help us understand what we are lacking:
“Our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.”
Paul saw the gospel reap a continual harvest because he preached out of FULL CONVICTION. He was absolutely, utterly, and completely convinced that the gospel was the only way to salvation (Romans 1:16) and that people would go to hell if they rejected God’s gift. That conviction guided his every decision, word, and action.
God honored Paul’s faith by filling him with the HOLY SPIRIT. The Holy Spirit guided Paul’s missionary journeys, strengthened him to endure persecution and hardship, and enabled him to remain faithful to his calling to share the good news (see the Book of Acts).
Because Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit, even his human frailty became a vessel for God’s POWER. Paul affirmed, “When I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God” (2 Corinthians 2:1-5).
Let’s stop with our excuses ... if the lost are not being found, WE are the problem. So, let’s get on our knees and pray:
Father, you so loved the world that you gave your only Son, Jesus Christ, that everyone who believes in him will not perish, but will have eternal life. Thank you for this tremendous gift – this amazing grace!
I confess that I have been treating your gospel lightly. I have not taken seriously my role as an ambassador of Christ. I have not been entreating people to be reconciled to God. I have not let the love of Christ compel me to action.
I repent and turn away from this lukewarm, passive, self-centered attitude. I declare today that there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved! I am pleading with you today to send me out as a worker into your harvest field. I am begging you for the opportunity to plant and weed and water the seeds of faith in those around me. I commit to living out the full conviction that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and that no one comes to the Father except through him.
I know that I need a new infilling of your Holy Spirit. I am asking you to fill me to overflowing so that out of my innermost being will pour rivers of living water! I will not let fear of not having the right words stop me. This isn’t about me – it is about you and it is always you who cause the growth, Father!
I am asking that your gospel will go forth in power because of the testimony of my lips and the testament of my life. I want to see people’s lives transformed. I want to see prisoners set free from the chains of sin. I want to see people who are dead inside come to life again. And I know that I will, because you are God, your gospel is true, and your promise is sure!
In the name of Jesus Christ and to his glory forever,
Verses referenced in the prayer: John 3:16, 2 Corinthians 5:18-21, 2 Corinthians 5:14, Acts 4:12, Luke 10:2, 1 Corinthians 3:7-8, John 14:6, John 7:38, 1 Corinthians 1:18, 2 Corinthians 5:17, 2 Corinthians 1:20