Category Archives: Witnessing

A Series of Unfortunate Events

       A Series of Unfortunate Events                      

“I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon” (Genesis 40:15).

Scripture: Genesis 40:9–15
Song: “Safely, Safely Gathered In”

The newscast that night caught my attention. A man charged and convicted of a ghastly crime would soon be released from prison. The court system and his attorneys had reopened the case after they discovered certain inconsistencies. After evaluating the new DNA evidence, the jury exonerated him of any crime. Such testing methods were not available during his first trial, so he’d spent 15 years behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit. Even so, the man did not appear sad or angry. Instead, he was looking forward to redeeming the time he had lost.

With advances in crime scene investigation, some people wrongly incarcerated are enjoying freedom, a new lease on life. Joseph found himself in a similar situation. A series of events landed him in an underground prison cell. Yet he had done nothing wrong. Still, he didn’t allow his imprisonment to sour his spiritual outlook. He used the situation to tell people about his faith in God.

God often uses adversity to birth a greater purpose for our lives. In Joseph’s case, he earned an Egyptian pardon and became Pharaoh’s highest-ranking advisor. Exercising patience and trusting God worked for Joseph, and it can for us as well.

O Lord, without all the facts, people are prone to misjudge. When that happens, remind me to pray for wisdom and to trust You for the outcome. Through Christ, amen.

“A Series of Unfortunate Events” by Charles Earl Harrel. First published in Devotions® © 2012 Standard Publishing. Reprinted with permission from the publisher.

Purchase printed issue of Devotions or 365 Devotions.

Advertisements

GETTING BACK ON TRACK

Getting Back on Track        

Read Acts 22:12–16

Paul was a religious zealot. He believed it was his calling to find fault with Christians. He sought them out and watched their every move, looking for any reason to impeach their testimony or accuse them in front of the congregation. Paul believed he had God’s blessing. He did not.

Occasionally, churches will have someone like Paul in their ranks. These individuals usually hinder the ministry instead of helping it. God loves them, but wants these people to change. If necessary, He will arrange for an encounter with the living Christ and suggest a different calling.

You will be his witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name (Acts 22:15, 16).

After the Damascus road experience, Paul was baptized in water to exemplify his new commitment to Christ. His sins, including his self-righteous attitude, were washed away. Now he had a better calling. Paul is our example: It’s time to get up, be baptized, and share our faith with a lost world.

Thought for Today: God has a special calling for everyone.

—Charles Earl Harrel

“Pray that God would secure the peace of Jerusalem.”

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

View God’s Word for Today devotional.
Order God’s Word for Today.
Visit Gospel Publishing House.

TAKE IT OUTSIDE

Take It Outside

Read Acts 18:5–11

Frustration plagued Pastor Chuck. He preached evangelistic messages every Sunday, gave altar calls during the service, yet seldom saw new people come to the Lord. In fact, the baptismal tank had not been used in six months. People were not being saved in the church. The “good news” was not reaching the lost. Fortunately, the solution is simple.

Then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. Crispus, the synagogue ruler, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized (Acts 18:7, 8).

Paul shared the message of salvation at the Jewish house of worship, but he often had better results outside the synagogue walls. Because of Paul’s outreach efforts, many people in Corinth found Christ and were baptized into the faith.

We can expect similar results. Since most of the harvest grows outside the church building, it’s best to look there first. Who knows—maybe the next candidate for baptism lives next door.

Prayer Suggestion: Ask God to help you witness to your neighbors.

—Charles Earl Harrel

“Pray that God would work actively in your local schools.”

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

View God’s Word for Today devotional.
Order God’s Word for Today.
Visit Gospel Publishing House.

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.

View God’s Word for Today devotional.
Order God’s Word for Today.
Visit Gospel Publishing House.

Both Good and Bad

many people invited

Both Good and Bad

Read Matthew 22:1–22

“Then [the king] said to his servants . . . ‘Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests (Matthew 22:8, 9, 10).

Inviting our friends and neighbors to church is a great idea. They might appreciate the Sunday sermon and enjoy the potluck after the service. Pastors welcome these efforts, but the command from Jesus goes deeper than just giving out invitations or persuading people to try our church. We need to invite them to eternal life.

We must reach out to nonbelievers, extending the invitation to nonfriends, even to the outcasts of this world. We should gather the unrighteous as well as the righteous. Both the good and the bad are invited to God’s kingdom. Both need His free gift of salvation.

It’s all too easy to let a busy schedule distract us from the all-inclusive call of the harvest. Don’t allow that to happen.

Thought for Today: God wants heaven filled, but He needs our help getting the invitations out.

Quicklook: Matthew 22:8–14

—Charles Earl Harrel

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

Order God’s Word for Today devotional guides.
Visit Gospel Publishing House.

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.

Forerunners Still Needed

Forerunners Still Needed

He will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord (Luke 1:17).

Scripture: Luke 1:14–17
Song: “I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go”

PressJohann Gutenberg designed a printing press with replaceable wooden or metal letters. His press furthered the gospel message by printing Gutenberg Bibles, the first books published in volume. In 1803, Lewis and Clark led an expedition across a newly acquired land, Lewis-Clarkmost of it unexplored; their efforts paved the way for a great westward expansion in America. The Wright Brothers and their Wright Flyer became the first heavier-than-air machine to achieve controlled flight with a pilot aboard; their design opened wide the doors to modern aviation.

All these people, and countless others like them, were forerunners. They blazed new trails or repaired old ones, setting the stage for those who followed them. And thus was John the Baptist. His messages turned the hearts of many people back to God and prepared them for the arrival of Jesus the very Son of God.

God still uses forerunners today. They preach a common message: Get ready, Jesus is coming back.         

God and Father of My Lord Jesus Christ, I may not have the notoriety as others, but I can still reach out to my neighbors and befriend them. Help me do it with all graciousness for Your glory. In Jesus’ name, amen.

“Forerunners Still Needed” by Charles Earl Harrel. First published in Devotions® © 2007 Standard Publishing. Reprinted with permission from the publisher.

Purchase current printed issue of Devotions or 365 Devotions