Tag Archives: witness

But I’m Not A Preacher

Peter and Paul are the two names most associated with the early church. Both were powerful speakers who performed many miracles. But all of the apostles had a part in those formative years.

Take Philip.(Acts 8) He also went from town to town sharing the Gospel. He was as obedient as Peter and Paul, maybe just a bit quieter about it. Obeying God, he spoke with a eunuch and led him to the Savior. I wonder what the eunuch thought when Philip disappeared. I wonder what Philip thought!

God is reminding me today that every believer has a job to do, and he honors obedience. A eunuch might not have seemed all that important to Philip, but that eunuch was important to God.

God is not asking most of us to stand before a large congregation and preach the Gospel so thousands are saved. But he is asking each of us to be obedient to speak to that one person he’s laid on our hearts.

God adds people to his kingdom one soul at a time. He’d like you to share in the responsibility, the honor, and the joy of leading one soul to their Savior.

Will you be obedient today? Will I?

Pilate and Me

We celebrated the Lord’s Supper yesterday at church. In my devotional time during the past several days I have been reading about Jesus’ last moments in a human body, and it made me appreciate the bread and wine even more. Jesus is not just some character in a book, or some guy who lived a good life thousands of years ago. He’s as real as he was the day Judas betrayed him. And our response to him is as important as Pilate’s response to him was.

Read Mark 15, Matthew 27, Luke 23, and John 19. See how Pilate, a powerful ruler of the people, washed his hands of the whole thing when he chose not to defy popular opinion. He knew Jesus wasn’t guilty of anything. But the crowd shouting for Jesus’ death was loud and strong. Pilate figured there was nothing he could do, so he just sat back and allowed Jesus to be mocked, beaten, and eventually killed.

Hold on before you get too critical of old Pilate. Is Jesus any less mocked, beaten up, obliterated from our society than he was in Pilate’s day? Isn’t popular opinion today just as loud and strong against God’s Truth as the people shouting, “Crucify Him” were back then?

Is Jesus the Way, the Truth, the Life, and the only way to the Father or not? Does sin, as spelled out clearly in Scripture, anger and disgust him? Are the wages of sin death? What is our response when popular opinion says we should be tolerant of all beliefs, that there are multiple ways to God, that evolution is a science, that homosexuality is not a choice and should be honored, that drunkenness is a party, that abortion is not murder, that Christians who speak against sin are haters?

I could go on. And so could you. God is asking me what my response will be. Will I, like Pilate, wash my hands and say, “Oh well, there’s nothing I can do”?

If I do – if we do – I believe Jesus will be obliterated from our society and we’ll have no one to blame but ourselves. I was reminded at church yesterday, and again this morning as I spent time in God’s Word, that Jesus endured a lonely and painful death because he loves me. What is my response to so great a love, so great a salvation?

Pilate let popular opinion prevent him from taking a stand. Will I?

Father, I pray for your people. May we each spend time in your Word and in prayer, asking you what you would have us do in response to popular opinion that dishonors you. May Christians stand in love and in Truth against Satan’s lies. And may those who are holding this popular opinion be drawn to the Savior because your people didn’t wash our hands of the whole thing. God, you are powerful. May your power be seen in your obedient servants.

The Devil Is In The Details

The devil is in the details. I know I might be taking some liberties here, but isn’t that kind of what Jesus told Martha? (Luke 10) She was busy preparing dinner – not a bad thing because she had guests in her home. But she was so intent on serving the perfect meal, she neglected her guest: Jesus Himself!

I don’t think this Scripture is teaching us to not plan, not pay attention to details. I know I certainly get frustrated if I’m in a class where the teacher has not spent time preparing, or at a meeting that hasn’t been organized, and wouldn’t it be silly for a football team to run onto the field without someone planning strategies and teaching the plays before they meet their opponent?

I think this passage teaches us about priorities. Jesus HAS to come first. Sure there are demands of the day, obligations we must meet, things to do that require careful planning. But none of that should have precedence over our time with Jesus.

Someone once said, “if you’re too busy to read the Bible, you’re too busy”. Choices, my friend. Choices.

Bill Hybels wrote a book entitled, “Too Busy Not To Pray”. Google Grace L. Naessens, and read her poem: “I Didn’t Have Time.” I think that’s the attitude Scripture would have us have.

So get busy doing work for the kingdom. But not before you spend time with the King.

Nothing is more important.

What Frustrates Jesus

I have to say Jesus’ reaction to his disciples when they couldn’t cast out a demon in a little boy bothers me. It seems like he was so mad at them. “You faithless and corrupt people! How long do I have to put up with you?” (Mark 9, Matthew 17, Luke 9) Was he really that frustrated with them?

Lately, God has impressed on my heart the urgency God feels concerning the salvation of souls. He is not playing around. He’s not hiding and hoping someone finds him. He’s in our face every day, trying to get our attention. And for those of us who know him as our Savior, he is passionately trying to get us to be that vessel through which he can reach unsaved souls.

I don’t like Jesus’ reaction to his disciples because I don’t like to think he is frustrated with me, too. I don’t want to think he says, “For crying out loud, Connie, can’t you do one simple thing like talking to your neighbor about me? Can’t you get out of that recliner for two seconds to call that friend I’ve laid on your heart?”

Jesus was frustrated with his disciples, not because he didn’t love them. But because Jesus had tunnel vision. He had a job to do.

He still does. People still need to hear about him, and he is intent on making that happen. May God find his people as intent as he is, as eager to reach the unsaved, with the same tunnel vision as Jesus has.

Priorities

The men brought their paralyzed friend to Jesus because they had faith Jesus could heal him. When the crowd was so large they couldn’t get inside to where Jesus was, they cut a hole in the ceiling and lowered their friend right in front of Jesus. (Matt 9, Mark 2, Luke 5)

What did Jesus do? He forgave the crippled man’s sins. In this act, we see where Jesus places his priorities.

It reminded me of the prayer boards in many Sunday School rooms, and prayer lines active in many churches. They are full of requests for God’s intervention for every ailment known to man:

Pray for Susie’s sinus problems. Bill’s cancer, Clyde’s cough, June’s surgery, Donna’s new job.

God wants us to bring our requests to him and I am not criticizing anyone for praying for another. It’s our responsibility and our privilege to bring our requests to the Lord. But if our priorities were the same as Jesus, wouldn’t our prayer boards be at least equally filled with requests for the salvation of souls:

Pray for Sandy as she has lunch with her cousin on Tuesday, pray for the cousin that her heart would be open and she would be willing to listen. For Chuck as he goes fishing with his coworker. For Laura as she witnesses to her husband.

Oh, Jesus healed the crippled man. And he still answers our prayers for physical needs. But physical healing is still a temporary fix. A repentant heart is a healing that is eternal.

Let’s pray. Pray for the health and physical healing of our loved ones. Jesus reveals himself through those answered prayers. But let’s not neglect the more important thing: the salvation of souls.

Father, I pray for those in my life who are facing physical challenges, emotional problems, relationship difficulties. Reveal yourself in their healing and may Jesus be praised. But I would pray for those who don’t know you. I pray for broken hearts when faced with the reality of sin, I pray for the softening of hardened hearts, for ears that will listen. May your Holy Spirit have free reign in the hearts of…. and …. today and may they come to the Savior to receive the healing that will last eternally. Show me what role I can play in their salvation, and may you find me faithful for Jesus’ sake.

Stay Or Go?

The people wanted Jesus to stay. They were amazed at his teaching, and their diseases were being healed. They probably would have made him king. People from all over, from many nations, were flocking to Jesus. His reputation was spreading like wildfire. (Mark 1, Luke 4, Matthew 4)

So why didn’t Jesus stay? Why didn’t he set up shop right there in Capernaum, preach what he wanted to preach, heal everyone who came to him? It sure would have been easier than the course he chose: the dusty roads, the danger, hot, sandy deserts, and rough seas.

What is God saying to us today through Jesus’ example? Maybe he’s calling you to go to a foreign country to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Maybe he’s nudging you to walk across the street and share him with your neighbor. I’m pretty sure he’s not calling you to sit in your recliner and wait for someone to knock on your door.

I think it’s also a message for our churches. Maybe we are wrong to focus our energy on making our churches attractive to sinners when God, by example, personally went to where the sinners were. Jesus went out and spoke to Samaritan women, lepers, and tax collectors. He didn’t wait for them to come to him, or orchestrate a rocking worship service to attract non-believers. There were no shortcuts in the course Jesus took.

So, dear one, are you going to stay where you are? Or are you going to get out there and befriend someone who needs the Savior, rub shoulders with sinners, reveal Jesus through your life choices and the words you speak?

Dear Jesus, thank you for your example to us today. May you find us who know you as our Savior walking where you walked, sharing the Gospel with neighbors and friends. May we never be satisfied with sitting on the sidelines, watching others do your will. May each of us obey your call, whether across the ocean or across the street, to lead a soul to their Savior. And thank you for promising to walk with us on our journey.

Hard Work and Laughter

The rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem is one of my favorite Old Testament accounts. (Nehemiah 3-6) The Jews worked together, each taking a section, and the wall went up in 52 days. I hope they had fun.

When I was a teenager, my family would take part in the semi-annual church clean-up. Like many churches, the members of the fellowship would get together on a Saturday to paint and repair, spring clean and plant flowers around our church property. There were jobs for all of us to do, no matter what age we were. I remember laughter and teasing, a covered dish lunch, the smell of Endust and newly cut grass. We had fun.

Was it like that for the Jews as they worked shoulder to shoulder with their neighbors on rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem? Did they make it a game, a contest to see who could carry the largest boulder? Did they joke with each other? Did they stop for lunch together?

The Bible tells us bullies tried to intimidate them into stopping their work. Did the Jews talk about Sanballat and Tobiah as they took a break from their work in the hot sun over a cool drink of water? Did they encourage one another to ignore the threats? I know they determined to protect each other.

I think this is a picture of what our churches should look like. People working shoulder to shoulder to share Jesus in the neighborhood, encouraging one another, supporting one another.

And having fun doing it.

Does the neighborhood surrounding your church property see a group of people who love one another and who enjoy serving God together? I hope they see a pick-up soccer game in the parking lot once in a while. I hope they hear laughter and occasionally smell the fragrance of hamburgs on the grill. I hope they see a building cared for and loved by the people who call it their church home. And I hope they are drawn to your fellowship because of it.

The Jews rebuilt that wall in 52 days. Pretty amazing. God has amazing things for our church fellowships to do, too. May he find us faithful doing his work with joy.

The Healing Stream

As I read Ezekiel 47 this morning about the Healing Stream, I was reminded of Jesus, the Living Water. The angel in Ezekiel’s vision described water that would freshen the Dead Sea, cause fruit trees to thrive so that they wouldn’t go dormant, and produce fish of every kind for fishermen to catch.

Fruit trees, fish, a useless body of water restored, blessed, “life will flourish wherever this water flows”. (verse 9)

Shouldn’t that describe the life of a believer in Jesus? Sometimes we don’t really know how dead we are in our sin until we are faced with the Truth of Scripture. Accepting Christ’s gift of forgiveness causes our worthless lives to have meaning. We, too, become fishers of men, we bear fruit that reveal Jesus to those around us. And none of this comes from our effort, our frame of mind, or even our faith.

Just like in Ezekiel’s vision, our transformation comes when the Healing Stream, the Living Water, Jesus Himself, flows through us. Which makes me wonder.

“Life will flourish wherever this water flows.”

I wonder if I haven’t built a dam that prevents the water from flowing freely. Would a sin I hold onto, harboring hatred or jealousy, neglecting my time with God in his Word and prayer, cause the Holy Spirit, that Healing Stream, to hit a snag?

I want my life to be like that which the angel showed Ezekiel in his vision. I want the Healing Stream to flow freely through me. I want to bear fruit, feed hungry souls, and be an example of the power of God to a world that needs him. 

Dear Father, Forgive me when I begin to build a dam that would prevent you from flowing through me. You are the Healing Stream, the Living Water. What a privilege it is to know you. I pray that I will be that vessel through which you can flow freely to draw others to you, too. Give me the ability to recognize the beginnings of dam-building, may I quickly repent, and may you use me today. Refresh me. Flow through me. And may Jesus receive the glory.

October 6

Matthew 5:21-7:29

You know, before Jesus came to earth, following the law was pretty black and white. In a very real sense, Jesus made following the law even more difficult than before.

In Old Testament times you sinned if you plowed on the Sabbath, if you had a wooden idol in your home, if you had an affair, killed someone, or stole something. Sins were concrete, visible. 

But Jesus took it a step further. He tells us if we hate someone we’re guilty of murder. If we lust after someone we’re guilty of adultery. What we think and feel became as important as what we do.

Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is about our heart’s condition. He talked about fruit trees and the fact that good trees bear good fruit and bad trees bear bad. If our hearts are right with the Lord, what we do and say will reflect that. The outward signs of a heart that belongs to God is love toward enemies, going the extra mile, honesty and trustworthiness.

Jesus tells us to be perfect as God is perfect. That’s a command, not a suggestion. 

Have you given your heart to Jesus? If you have, you have no excuse but to bear good fruit. Let him pour himself into you and out of you as you yield to him. May you bear the fruit of having him in your heart.

Gracious Father, thank you for challenging me today to check my heart’s condition. May I recognize the areas I haven’t turned over to you and may I give it all to you. I pray that the fruit I yield today in the things I do, the things I say, and the thoughts I think show the world that my heart belongs to you.

October 2

John 2:1-4:26

Do you know anyone who believes Jesus was a prophet and not the physical Son of God? Some people believe he was a good man, a gifted preacher, just one more person pointing us to God along with Buddha, Mohammed, or the Dalai Lama. How do you talk to those who reject Jesus as God in the flesh?

The book of John is full of proof. Jesus’ loving conversation with Nicodemus is a gentle introduction of God’s plan through the Son. Jesus spoke of our need to be born again, he foretold about the crucification, he explained that God so loved the world that whoever believes in the Son will have eternal life. Even John the Baptist testified in 3:36 that eternal life only comes through the Son.

We who know the end of the story know that those words were about Jesus. But Jesus was careful not to reveal himself as the promised Messiah to too many people at the beginning of his ministry. He had a lot to do in a short time and he knew if the Jews recognized him as the Promised One they would want to make him King. And that is not why he was there.

Jesus protected his identity to most. But he revealed himself to a Samaritan woman. Not a Jewish priest or powerful king. A Samaritan woman who had been married multiple times and who was living with a man she wasn’t married to. She was, however, looking forward to the coming of the Messiah. I am so thankful for the words Jesus spoke to her that day because there can be no mistake. There needs to be no interpretation. The woman spoke of the Messiah and the fact that he would explain everything when he comes. Jesus answered her:

I who speak to you am he.

Is Jesus the Messiah? Is he God in the flesh? How much clearer could he be?

Dear Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man, Eternal One, Creator, the Word who became flesh, we bow to you today as our Holy God in human form. Thank you for your plan of salvation and for coming to us, to walk with us, to feel what we feel and experience what we experience. Thank you for those who recorded your stay on earth so that there can be no mistake as to who you are. Thank you that because of your written word, we can get to know you a couple of thousand years later. And thank you that because of you we can know the forgiveness of sin and fellowship with you right this minute. May we be faithful to share you, the truth of your life on earth, with people who don’t as yet know you. May you be glorified in all we do and say today.