Category Archives: Witnessing

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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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.

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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.

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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.

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Just Tell It

Golden fish hookJUST TELL IT

Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me (Psalm 66:16).

Scripture: Psalm 66:16–20
Song: “I Love to Tell the Story”

The gold-plated fish hook on the man’s shirt collar grabbed my attention. It reminded me of my dad; he often pinned his favorite fishing fly or lure on his hat. After I’d snuck several glances, the man walked over and introduced himself. Our conversation soon turned to fishing.

I discovered this gold hook was John’s favorite one; he had caught more fish with it than any other. He told me that he once hooked a 200-pounder with it.

John always kept his favorite hook handy in case he saw a fish. In fact, he said, he had one on the line now (and he started to tug on his collar as if a fish were nibbling). That’s when I realized John had been fishing for me. With his hook set, John told me the story of his own experience of being caught—by the greatest fisherman of all.

Our witness matters. People may dismiss our doctrine, or disagree with our beliefs, but they cannot deny what God has done in our lives. If we’ll just tell them how God has graciously reached into our hearts, we can let Him take care of the rest.

Father, I know we all have different stories. Some have experienced Your healing, others a wonderful answer to prayer. But all of us have known Your unconditional favor through Christ’s work of atonement. Help me to tell of Your great goodness in my life. In Jesus’ name. amen.

“Just Tell It” by Charles Earl Harrel. First published in Devotions® © 2007 Standard Publishing. Reprinted with permission from the publisher.

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One of Them?

reaching out-2                                       One of Them?

By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another (John 13:35, New International Version).

Scripture: John 13:31-35
Song: “Lord, Lay Some Soul upon My Heart”

It was after midnight when I slipped out the side door of my apartment. I could hear someone crying. As assistant manager of the Lassam Terrace, it was my duty to check out disturbances on the premises. I soon discovered the reason for all the noise: a man stumbling across the street. He stopped for a moment and leaned against the mailboxes, using them for support. He looked sick and lost, another patron from the tavern up the road.

The man never asked for a handout. He only wanted to get home and needed directions to the nearest tram station. But that was miles away, and he’d never reach it on foot—not with the temperatures near freezing.

As I drove Mike home, we talked. He was shocked that I wanted to help him. Most people just gave him a few bucks and told him to move along. So he asked me, “Are you one of them—you know—them Christians?” I nodded. “I knew it,” he said. “You people are different.”

That made me think. People who attend my church know I am a follower of Jesus. But I wish my neighbors knew it too. When we love others, we demonstrate to the world that we are—you know—one of them.

Lord, today let me show, with acts of love, who owns my heart. Please guide me in this endeavor. In Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

“One of Them?” by Charles Earl Harrel. First published in Devotions® © 2006 Standard Publishing. Reprinted with permission from the publisher.

Purchase current issue of Devotions or 365 Devotions