Tag Archives: reaching out

Opportunities to Minister

Opportunities to Minister 

When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected. So he asked Pharaoh’s officials . . . “Why are your faces so sad today?” (Genesis 40:6, 7).

Scripture: Genesis 40:1–8
Song: “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” (by Joseph M. Scriven)

While her brother rested, Lonora wandered out into the waiting area at Portland VA Medical Center, looking for a quiet place to sort out her thoughts. Anguish filled her heart. Her brother, Ken, lay nearby in the critical care unit. Just weeks before, her other brother had died tragically.

Lonora located a vacant seat and sat down. She needed solitude. Instead, she heard loud, crude remarks being directed at an already distraught woman. Like Lonora, this woman was deeply concerned about a loved one. Comments from insensitive relatives had only made the situation worse. Moved by compassion, Lonora approached her. She spoke words of comfort, offered a short prayer, and then gave her a tender hug. The embrace released tears of healing for both women.

In today’s passage Joseph encounters jailed servants who had offended Pharaoh. Thankfully for them, providence had placed Joseph in the same jail to offer encouragement. And God will put needful people in our paths as well. Discouraging circumstances provide the perfect opportunity for ministry.

Spirit of the Living God, many people today face difficulties in their lives. Please lead me to those who need Your encouragement. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

“Opportunities to Minister” by Charles Earl Harrel. First published in Devotions® © 2012 Standard Publishing. Reprinted with permission from the publisher.

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You Are Not Alone

prisonerYou Are Not Alone                          

Read Genesis 37:1 through 41:57

Robbie waited his turn at the counter. A man there handed him two of everything. The khaki uniforms smelled clean but looked like hand-me-downs. Everyone staying here wore the same clothes—the colors drab, the look depressing.

He searched the hallway, hoping to make eye contact. One person smiled at him but with mocking intent. A lump stuck in Robbie’s throat; moisture filled each eye. He hated this place. He felt trapped, deserted, and afraid. Robbie lived in prison.

While Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden (Genesis 39:20, 21).

Prisons are not designed for hospitality. Some think of them as godforsaken places; rather, they are high on God’s list of ministry priorities (see Matthew 25:36). To God, prisons are places where God’s people can go to reach out to others with the message of His mercy, forgiveness, and eternal salvation.

Challenge for Today: Get involved with a visitation ministry. Those in prisons, nursing homes, and treatment centers need Christian encouragement.

Quicklook: Genesis 39:13–23
—Charles Earl Harrel

Pray that God would enable Christians to speak the gospel with great boldness.

God’s Word for Today © 2008 Gospel Publishing House (used by permission).

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Who Will Light the Way?

Light of the WorldWho Will Light the Way?

The LORD says . . . “I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 49:5, 6).

Scripture: Isaiah 49:1-6
Song: “Light of Light, Enlighten Me”

Jeremy’s hand rose first when I asked the question. As youth leader for children’s church, I usually took requests for songs. Jeremy always requested, “This Little Light of Mine.” He never tired of that song. Reluctantly, I said yes—but, for me, the song had lost its meaning years ago. At times I even despised it, including the repetitive hand motions.

I suppose the Lord was listening in to my thoughts. Halfway into the chorus, He seemed to speak to my heart: So, how are you going to do that—be my light to a lost world?

The question challenged and convicted me. After the morning worship service, I stopped by the prayer room. I waited in silence for an hour, listening for the Lord, and then I prayed, “Do You have any openings for Christian writers?”

Isaiah prophesied about a Messiah who would one day be a light to all people, Jew and Gentile alike. He, Jesus Christ, is the divine source of light, and we are His lamps. Each of us is called to carry and spread His light to our friends and neighbors.

Oil LampLord, fill my lamp with oil, and trim its flame to burn brightly. And use me to bring Your light to those who live in darkness. In Jesus’ name, amen.

“Who Will Light the Way?” by Charles Earl Harrel. First published in Devotions® © 2009 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

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

The High Call of Writing

Writing-1The Apostle Paul desired to be “all things to all people by all means” because he wanted to win the more: to reach more people for Christ and make an eternal difference for humanity (see 1 Corinthians 9:19–22). Although his efforts as a teacher, evangelist, and missionary were commendable—even miraculous—it was through the medium of writing that Paul truly succeeded in this endeavor.

Too often, we limit the methods or ways we share our faith. Not Paul, he wanted to use all available means. Not to be some things to some people, but to be all things to all people. This task would not be an easy one, but Paul felt it was possible with a servant’s heart. That’s where his writing came in. Using pastoral letters called epistles, he impacted the world . . . and he still does today.

“Even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:33–11:1 NIV).

May God lead us as we follow Paul’s example in servitude and Christ’s example at the Cross—a high call indeed.