Category Archives: Serving God

Now I See

Now I See

Read Acts 9:13–19

Karen’s contact lens crumbled between her fingertips as she tried to clean it. The lens was just too brittle. For years, Karen had put off visiting her optometrist, now she had no choice. She needed replacements. Besides, her vision was already limited, especially when driving at night. The next day the doctor prescribed new contacts and Karen could see clearly again.

Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized (Acts 9:18).

Karen did not realize how cloudy her vision had become. Saul came to a similar revelation after receiving prayer from Ananias. Not only did his eyesight return, Saul’s spiritual perception improved too. The first thing he saw was his need for water baptism.

Water baptism is an open expression of our newfound faith in Christ. If we have passed from spiritual darkness into the light, then we should demonstrate that change to others. Baptism is a good start.

Thought for Today: There are two baptisms: The Holy Spirit imparts one; the church conducts the other.

—Charles Earl Harrel

God’s Word for Today © 2010 Gospel Publishing House. Used by permission.

P.S. Both baptisms are important.

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How Willing?

How Willing?

Read Matthew 23:23–39

When Joshua took possession of the land of Canaan, he left the fortified city of Jerusalem under Jebusite control. It remained that way until the reign of King David. Although David had a ruling city, he saw the advantage of Jerusalem over Hebron. Leading a daring attack, David captured Jerusalem and made it his new capital. The Jewish people still refer to it as the City of David and sometimes as Zion (2 Samuel 5:7).

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing” (Matthew 23:37).

Jesus spoke here of all the Jews. They were special, called of God, but unwilling to come together and follow Him.

God desires to gather all His children in unity. He wants us to lay aside our differences and worship Him, to pray together, to work side by side in the harvest, to serve only Him. The call to Jerusalem echoes to the Church today—how willing are we?

Thought for Today: Only at the cross are we truly made willing.

Quicklook: Matthew 23:37–39

—Charles Earl Harrel

God’s Word for Today © 2007 Gospel Publishing House. Used by permission.

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Looking for Volunteers

biblical-famineLooking for Volunteers

Read Genesis 42:1 through 44:34

When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you just keep looking at each other?” (Genesis 42:1).

Crops withered away that year, just as Joseph predicted. The early and latter rains did not fall. The famine spread slowly at first, but soon all of Egypt was affected. Then it moved into the surrounding lands. Even Canaan, the land of promise, was not exempt.

Every year the famine grew worse. Families starved, livestock perished, and there was no end in sight. Then came the word: Egypt had grain. However, when Jacob told his sons the good news, they had this odd response. They just looked at each other as if to say, “Not me.”

The journey involved risk, and some travelers didn’t return home. Moreover, the Pharaohs weren’t known for their generosity to foreigners, and they hated shepherds like them. The brothers stared at each other, hoping someone else would volunteer.

Sometimes we hesitate to respond to needs at church, yet pastors are starving for willing servants. Before saying no, ask God how you can help.

Thought for Today: Whatever the need, everyone can help in some way.

Quicklook: Genesis 42:1–13

—Charles Earl Harrel

Daily Prayer Emphasis: Unity in the Church

God’s Word for Today © 2006 Gospel Publishing House. Used by permission.

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Visit Gospel Publishing House.

Looking Ahead

jesus-returnLooking Ahead           

So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him (2 Peter 3:14).

Scripture: 2 Peter 3:14–18
Song: “When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder”

I met Smeedy at the Carpenter Shop, a teen outreach ministry in Reedley, California. He rarely missed a service or function. Smeedy was the first to arrive and the last to leave. He always carried a paperback Good News for Modern Man, which he folded in half and tucked into the right back pocket of his jeans. When not reading this Bible, he was praying. Sometimes you had to interrupt him if you wanted to speak with him.

A few kids thought Smeedy’s behavior a little strange. And yes, he was a unique personality. But to me, he seemed like the real deal—the kind of Christian mentioned in the book of Acts. I respected his dedication and faith in God.

judgment-daySmeedy believed Jesus could return at any time. So he’d often ask people whether they were ready to stand before God and give an account of their lives. The approach didn’t endear him with everyone. But we know that the disciples shared the same concern. In today’s verse, Peter looks forward to a future day in eternity called the Day of the Lord. Since this day of reckoning is approaching, Peter exhorts us to conduct our lives accordingly.

Lord, help me live in expectation of what lies ahead in eternity. Until then, may my conduct be acceptable in Your sight. In Jesus’ name, amen.

“Looking Ahead” by Charles Earl Harrel. First published in Devotions® © 2010 Standard Publishing. Reprinted with permission from the publisher.

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Use It or Lose It! — Devotions for Teachers…

Labor Day is here, students are going back to school, and teachers are preparing for another year. This blog post is an important reminder, not just for teachers, but also for all of us.

God places us where we are to accomplish considerable exploits on His behalf. He has great expectations for us. It’s written in His word. Therefore, as Christians, and Christian teachers, we instinctively understand we are to increase what He puts in our hands. Amen? Matthew 25:14-30 New Living Translation (NLT) 14 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can […]

via Use It or Lose It! — Devotions for Teachers…

Prophets Still Needed

prophets of GodProphets Still Needed   

It was [Christ] who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,  to prepare God’s people for works of service (Ephesians 4:11, 12).

Scripture: Ephesians 4:11–16
Song: “Chosen and Sent by the Father”

I grew accustomed to reading the witty sayings on a church sign over on Division Street. Sometimes they posted upcoming services or community news. One Friday, while driving home from work, I glanced over my shoulder to read the message for that day. Instead of a catchy quote, I found this announcement: “Prophet from Scotland preaching tonight—7 PM. Come hear God’s Word.”

I usually expect to hear ministers, teachers, and evangelists speaking from the pulpit. So when someone mentions prophet or apostle, I become a little skeptical. In retrospect, I can see that my perspective isn’t supported by today’s verse.

Old Testament believers needed prophets, and, according to Paul, we still need them today. The Holy Spirit engifted prophets to covey spiritual wisdom, point out iniquity, and edify the body of Christ with their words. Prophetic ministry helped the first century church grow and become an effective witness to a lost world.

Lord, since the laborers are few and the harvest great, please raise up people for the ministry, regardless of titles we give them. In Christ I pray. Amen.

“Prophets Still Needed” by Charles Earl Harrel. First published in Devotions® © 2010 Standard Publishing. Reprinted with permission from the publisher.

Purchase current printed issue of Devotions or 365 Devotions.

Hey, Preacher!

helping othersHey, Preacher!    

We do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake (2 Corinthians 4:5).

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 4:1–6
Song: “Make Me a Servant”

“Hey preacher, I thought you only worked on Sundays.” I nodded my head and smiled back, wishing he knew the half of it. Gene ran the lumberyard in town. I’d come in that morning to purchase building materials for a benevolent outreach project: a widow needed repairs on her leaking roof. Not getting an answer from me, Gene teasingly pressed the issue. “So, why are you here on your week off?”

After whispering a short prayer for direction, I told Gene about today’s itinerary. “After I fix a neighbor’s roof, I will sort food at the food bank, then visit shut-ins at the retirement center. If there’s time, I’ll work on Sunday’s sermon.” Gene didn’t say much after that.

The following week, I made another trip to the lumberyard. Gene met me at the door: “Hey preacher, who are you helping today? Let me know if you need an extra hand.”

When we preach Christ by serving others, the world will take notice. Often, the best sermon is the example we set by our deeds.

Dear God, not everyone attends my church or listens when I preach Your Word. Many stand on the sidelines, watching, judging my actions. And this I welcome—for if they see me as Your servant, they might respond by opening their hearts to the Master. In the name of Jesus, amen.

“Hey, Preacher!” by Charles Earl Harrel. First published in Devotions® © 2010 Standard Publishing. Reprinted with permission from the publisher.

Purchase current printed issue of Devotions or 365 Devotions.