Tag Archives: witnessing

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.

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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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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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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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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.

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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.

Purchase current printed issue of Devotions or 365 Devotions