Daily Devotions

REACHING THE WORLD

Matthew: 28:19: “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the son and the Holy Spirit.”  NLT

 

When I was quite young, I was sure that God would ask me to go to Africa or India or someplace like that to be a missionary.  That is a common reaction to this Scripture. Jesus does call us to reach the world for Him.  It isn’t possible for each of us to be a “missionary” to foreign lands. How then should we respond to His great commission?

Recall the incident in ISamuel in the 30th chapter where some of David’s army were too tired to continue chasing the enemy?  David allowed some of his soldiers to stay behind to wait and rest.  When David and his men returned after defeating the foe, some of his soldiers felt that the “spoils” should not be shared with the men who stayed out of the battle.  David responded this way in verses 23-24: “But David said, “No, my brothers!  Don’t be selfish with what the Lord has given us.  He has kept us safe and helped us defeat the band of raiders that attacked us.  Who will listen when you talk like this?  We share and share alike…those who go to battle and those who guard the equipment.” NLT

I think that some Christians are to support those on the front line….the evangelists, prophets, and missionaries, by giving of their resources and by praying.  Those who labor on the front line of the battle against Satan need our prayer to undergird and to strengthen them. 

When we support organizations like the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, The Gideons International, Samaritan’s Purse, and especially our own missionaries, we are helping to carry out the command of Jesus to go into all the world.  I have heard it said that, “If you are not a missionary; then you are a mission field”.  We ARE a missionary when we give, pray, and support those who work around the world to tell others about Jesus and His love.

Witnessing is complex.  It is not a single “one size fits all” proposition.  You may be one who is out “beating the bushes” to bring souls to Christ.  Or you may be one who waits, “guarding the equipment.” But, be sure that you are in the battle!

I like this old hymn by Charles H. Gabriel:

          There’s a call comes ringing o’er the restless wave, “Send the light! Send the Light!”

          There are souls to rescue, there are souls to save, “Send the light! Send the light!”

          Send the light, the blessed gospel light; Let it shine from shore to shore!

 

ALWAYS A WINNER

I am pretty competitive. I don’t like to lose and I don’t enjoy criticism or rejection.  One of the fears in witnessing for Jesus is the fear of criticism or rejection.  We want to score a winner every time.

In his book, “One Thing You Can’t Do In Heaven”, Mark Cahill writes a chapter titled: “Winning, Winning, Winning”.  I especially enjoyed this chapter and his concept of being a winner every time we witness.  He asks the question: “What are the only three possible things that can happen when we share our faith?”  The answer was:  1) the person can accept Jesus Christ; 2) the person can reject Jesus Christ; or 3) we can plant a seed.  Two results are wins, the other one is a loss. Two out of three are pretty good odds.

I was so happy, though, when he goes on to cite the scripture in Luke 6:22-23: “Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.  Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for behold, your reward is great in Heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.”KJV  He asks, Do you realize that when you get rejected in the name of Jesus, God has rewards waiting for you in Heaven?

Now, see how you can always win at witnessing?    If the person accepts Jesus, you have won a soul for Him.  Or, if you have sown a seed, that person might yet accept Jesus someday. And, if the person rejects Jesus, you will have a reward waiting for you in Heaven!  Wow, it’s a Win, Win, Win situation.

Ferlin Husky had this song that says it so well: “Will there be any stars in my crown?” Let me share the second verse and the refrain:

In the strength of the Lord let me labor and pray, 

Let me watch as a winner of souls, that bright stars may be mine in the glorious day, when His praise like the sea billow rolls.

Will there be any stars, any stars in my crown

When at evening the sun goeth down?

When I wake with the blest in the mansions of rest

Will there be any stars in my crown?

 

OUR AMAZING, SOVEREIGN GOD

Read I Samuel 17.

God surprises and amazes me when I think of how He uses His people to accomplish His purposes. In our Scripture today, God uses a young shepherd armed with 5 smooth stones and a sling to defeat an armored giant carrying a sword, spear, and javelin. You could say this wasn’t a fair fight.  Hear David’s words to Goliath in verses 45, 46, and 47 (NKJV) :  “You come to me with a sword….I come to you in the name of the Lord of Hosts….whom you have defied”; “He will deliver you into our hands.”  You know the outcome; God gave David and the army of Israel victory over Goliath and the Philistines.

That leads me to an interesting story about Nate and John.  Nate was an atheist and an intellectual giant.  He was so bright that he achieved one of the highest scores on the Mensa test; he even found an error in the test!  His hobby was tearing down religions.  Who might we choose to witness to him? Probably, a Christian member of Mensa, or a Doctor of Divinity; perhaps, a well-known apologist and defender of our Faith.

John was a Blackfoot Indian, with a high school education and he was just off the reservation. He and Nate met on a loaded bus of recruits.  Nate observed the other recruits ridiculing John.  John took the teasing so patiently that Nate asked him why he allowed the taunting.  John replied, “Sir, I am a Christian.”  Nate had successfully shredded other religions but Christianity had stumped him.  So, he decided to challenge John.

He began to question John: “Do you really believe someone was vomited out of the mouth of a whale?” John replied, “Yes, Sir”.  Nate asked, “Why?”  John answered: “My Bible tells me so”.  Nate continued with question after question that resulted in “yes” or “no” answers from John. And upon Nate’s query of “why?” John always replied, “My Bible tells me so”.

Nate could not shake John’s faith and he, eventually, borrowed a Bible. In Job 5:8-9, he read words that so struck him that he became a Christian.  He is now an effective defender of our Faith.

Think you don’t know enough?  God can use you for He knows where to put us and with whom!

Hebrews 4:12 tells us that “God’s Word is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword….”

 

ENOUGH OF THE EXCUSES

Exodus 4:10 NKJV “Then Moses said to the Lord, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”

It is understandable that we feel inadequate to witness.  Note that God has always used imperfect humans to do His bidding.  We need to take care that we not anger God.  In Exodus 4:13-14, Moses asked God to send someone else and God’s anger was “kindled against Moses”.  God has commanded His people , Christians, to carry His message to a lost world!

Certainly, we need, as the old hymn says, to “Give of Your Best to the Master”.  When we feel weak in our own ability, we can take comfort and gain courage from the Lord’s words to the Apostle Paul in II Corinthians 12:9-10.  Paul was told , “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” NKJV the Scripture does not say, in ‘your’ weakness; so we can be confident that this applies to all Christians who do Christ’s will.

The Lord can use an imperfect witness to accomplish his perfect will.  Bill Fey, the author of “Share Jesus Without Fear”, loves to remind Christians that God can use our poorly presented, incomplete witness because of His ability.  But, he cannot use our “nothing”.

We often hear, “Experience is the best teacher”.  Let’s begin with our best for the Master.  Let’s learn from mistakes and improve with each witness experience.

Should your witness not result in acceptance of Jesus as Savior, you have successfully sown a seed; you followed Jesus’ command to witness.  Trust Him for the harvest.  Recall the parable of the sower:  not all the seed resulted in a crop.  Some was eaten by birds, some only temporary growth; but some produced a bountiful harvest.

Jesus is not so interested in our ability as He is our availability!  

 

HEED THE SPIRIT

In I Peter 3:15, we are told to always be ready to make a defense to everyone who asks us to give an account for the hope that is within us.  It is discouraging whenever we do this and we meet resistance. No matter how diligently or carefully we share the Scripture, we don’t always receive the result that we are hoping for.  Sometimes, we are met with hostility or indifference or we encounter a stone wall. When this happens, don’t get discouraged.  We are only responsible for sowing the seed;  God will provide the harvest. 

There are people whose hearts are so hardened, we are just not able to persuade them to repent and give their hearts to Jesus.  And, at times, the Holy Spirit is not urging us to witness.  It is wise to not persist if the Holy Spirit is not enabling our witness.  That is the time to pause and “Wait upon the Lord.”  Perhaps, it isn’t the right timing or the right place.  Never, push yourself to witness if the Holy Spirit is not with you.  Sometime in the future, that person may choose to accept Christ.  Be faithful and don’t  fret about the results. 

Jesus sent His disciples out to witness and included these instructions: “As you enter the house, give it your greeting.  If the house is worthy, give it your blessing of peace.  But if it is not worthy, take back your blessing of peace.  Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet.”  Matthew 10:12-14. NASB  I caution myself, though, to not use this as an excuse. It is a huge responsibility to tell others about our Savior and we need to undertake the task after a lot of prayer and spiritual preparation.

Never go where the Spirit of the Lord doesn’t lead you.

I like the words of Mylon LeFevre in his song: “Without Him”:

     WITHOUT HIM I COULD DO NOTHING;  WITHOUT HIM I’D SURELY FAIL,

     WITHOUT HIM, I WOULD BE DRIFTING;  LIKE A SHIP WITHOUT A SAIL.

     JESUS, O JESUS! DO YOU KNOW HIM TODAY?  DO NOT TURN HIM AWAY,

     O JESUS, O JESUS, WITHOUT HIM, HOW LOST I WOULD BE.

 

NOW IS THE TIME TO WITNESS!

Esther 4:14: “For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house, will perish.  Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”  NKJV

I believe God places us in particular places and situations in His timing.  On occasion, I have had a very  strong feeling that there was a reason why I was in a specific place for His will.  At times, I haven’t seen the reason until later. Things worked out for me so well, without any prior planning on my part, that I could only give God the credit and the Praise.

Some years ago, we went to a family reunion (maybe a little reluctantly).  There was no conscious thought of my witnessing; only the thought of seeing family.  I had not seen some of my family members for many years.

My much younger brother was sitting by himself on a picnic bench. This brother is only about a year older than our oldest son, so we did not grow up together and we hadn’t been very close.  When I noticed him, I felt the need to go over to him to witness to him.  I had not had training on witnessing and wasn’t really comfortable about doing it.  Perhaps, my most important thought was to invite him to come to church.  (I probably used a lot of pressure to encourage him to come.)  I offered to pick him up, but he assured me that he would come and that he didn’t want me to “go out of my way.”

I feared that he would not keep his promise.  Praise the Lord!  Both he and his wife came to church the very next day. In only a short time, they accepted Christ, joined the church and continue to be active.

I Praise God for the Holy Spirit’s urging.  Later, I found out that my witnessing came at a crucial time in my brother’s life.  God put me in that place for a very important reason!

I like the chorus of the old hymn by Mary Brown:

     I’ll go where you want me to go, Dear Lord

     O’er mountain or plain or sea

     I’ll say what you want me to say, Dear Lord

     I’ll be what you want me to be.

    Sometimes, He wants us to go to a family member who is sitting alone on a picnic bench!

METHODS FOR WITNESSING

First, let me say that formulas or methods for witness are just guidelines.  For those of us who need a “kit” or “instruction book” to accomplish anything, there are many suggestions for a way to witness.

One booklet that I learned to use early in my Christian life is “The Four Spiritual Laws”.  This is used by the Billy Graham Crusade team.  It is easy to use and a “user-friendly” tract.

Then, later, I learned the “Bridge” illustration for witnessing.  The depiction is of God on one side of a great gulf and sinners on the other side.  Jesus Christ is shown as the “bridge” between God and man. Once we have established a conversation with a “prospect”, we describe the separation of God and ourselves.  We can then use Scripture to demonstrate how to draw near to God.

The newest method that I have learned is the formula that Bill Fey writes about in his book, “Share Jesus Without Fear”.  We have watched his video which is an exciting entertaining way to learn how to share your faith. 

All of the above tools use the “Roman Road” scriptures to teach us how to witness.  This consists of Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23; Romans 10:9-11.  There are other passages added to these; depending on which method is being used.  (I would encourage you to memorize these Scriptures.)

Another valuable tool is witnessing with tracts.  I read about a man putting tracts on the inside of cartons of beer and soft drinks. He goes into the grocery store and slides them into the slot on the side of these cartons.  I don’t know if I could do that.  However, it is easy to hand a tract to your server when you give them a tip.  I have seen tracts left in public restrooms.  Some of these might be thrown away; but even if only one person reads it and finds the Lord, it will have been worthwhile.

To learn more, I recommend the “Share Jesus Without Fear” book and video.  Also, “One Thing You Can’t Do In Heaven”, by Mark Cahill. 

No matter how you choose to do it, just TELL YOUR STORY.  You know what Jesus has done for you and you have something that the world needs.  GO SHARE!

IT’S YOUR TIME

Management of time is very important!  One of the excuses to not witness is, “I don’t have the time”.  I have noticed that the older I get; the faster time goes.  We all have 24 hours in a day.  So, why do I feel as though I need more hours in my day?  It seems to take longer to do a task than it did 50 years ago, or even 20 years ago.

Ephesians 5:15-16: “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise; making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” NASB. Wow!  That is a profound thought!  How is the best way to accomplish the wisest use of our available time to witness?

We need to PLAN to witness.  There is a saying that we must “plan to work and then work our plan”. I have the privilege of witnessing through the Gideons Auxiliary Scripture distribution plan.  So, I am given the ‘planned’ opportunity for witnessing by giving Scripture to nurses, in doctor’s offices, nursing homes, etc.  I also “plan” to give a New Testament to clerks in the stores where I shop.  I have promised God that any time I am the last person in the check-out line, I will offer the checker a Scripture.  (I do this in that way so that I do not take up her work time.) Now, I need to remember to follow through…work my plan.  There are many other ways to plan our witnessing time.  Just follow through in your plan to be faithful.

Bill Fey, in his book, “Sharing Jesus Without Fear” recommends that we make an appointment with the person with whom we would like to share a witness. Take that friend (or loved one) to lunch or have them over to your home.  Make the time to tell them about Jesus.

Anytime is the right time to share a witness.  Perhaps, you only have a moment or an hour.  Whatever time is available, use it! Remember, you don’t have to prepare and preach a sermon.  Often, a smile and a word of hope is all you have the time for…DO IT.  Don’t postpone your opportunity to witness until you have more time.

An unwise use of our time is that word of procrastination….Someday! Too often, Someday never comes. A corresponding thought is: “I’ll do it tomorrow.”  I can think of specific occasions when I knew I should be a witness.  I put it off and now it is too late.  I urge you to take advantage of every opportunity before the time is lost.

“For He says, “At the acceptable time I listened to you, and on the day of salvation I helped you.”  Behold, now is the ACCEPTABLE TIME, behold, now is the day of Salvation.” II Corinthians 6:2  NASB 

RESCUE THE NEEDY

Psalm 82:4: “Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.”  NASB

 

One of the songs we often sang when I was a child is the hymn penned by Fanny Crosby:

“Rescue the perishing, care for the dying, Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave; Weep o’er the erring one, lift up the fallen, Tell them of Jesus, the mighty to save.”

Refrain: “Rescue the perishing, care for the dying, Jesus is merciful, Jesus will save.”

Verse 2:  “Though they are slighting Him, still He is waiting, Waiting the penitent child to receive;

Plead with them earnestly, plead with them gently; He will forgive if they only believe.”

Verse 4:    “Rescue the perishing, duty demands it; Strength for thy labor the Lord will provide;

Back to the narrow way patiently win them; Tell the poor wand’rer a Savior has died.”

 

Have you ever sat in a crowded room and looked at the people around you?  Do you ever wonder if they are saved?  I have imagined that some of them are lost and going to hell.  I have wished that I could rescue each one.  But, I never have had the nerve to stand up and start preaching!

Remember the slogan, “Each one win one?”  One person cannot reach every person who is lost.  But, think of how many can be saved if each of us witnesses to just one person!  I am not good at Math. However, I think it wouldn’t take long to reach every member of our community if each of us told one person about Jesus and that person told one person and on and on.

Be a rescuer!

My Prayer:  Father, don’t let me miss a “divine appointment”.  Help me to have a loving heart and open eyes to the hurting people around me.  Give me the right attitude and the appropriate words to take your invitation to those who need to hear the words, “Come Unto Me”.  Amen

PRAY

James 5:16b: The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” NASB

 

I believe that the first step in witnessing is prayer.  Pastor Don Walton has written a book entitled: “Praying in the Harvest: How to pray for the lost.”  This book is worthwhile to read for our concern for the unsaved.  I won’t try to go into a discourse on this subject; I do want to remind you of the importance of prayer before and during your time of witnessing.

Start by praying for the people you plan to try to reach.  Jesus spent a lot of time alone in prayer.  If He felt the need to talk to God, even more do we need to do so.  Talk to the Lord about the person to whom you plan to witness.  Ask for salvation for that person, doing so by mentioning their name.  God knows who they are but it is a loving way to prepare to talk to your lost friend.

Pray for yourself.  Put on the whole armor of God.  When we endeavor to witness, we are going into Satan’s territory.  He will do everything he can to prevent you from speaking a word of the hope within you. Cover in prayer your time, your speech, and your efforts.

After you have witnessed, no matter what decision was made or what seed was sown; pray for the results.  Pray for the future of the one who received your words.  You may feel that your efforts were inadequate but God can do mighty things with our feeble attempts to witness.

If you reached your prospect in a way that resulted in salvation; pray with thanksgiving and praise to God.  Only God can save and give the victory.  What joy there is in seeing a lost sheep come into the fold of the Great Shepherd! Let God receive the Glory and Praise for another soul set free!

I HAVE A SAVIOR, HE’S PLEADING IN GLORY,

A DEAR, LOVING SAVIOR THOUGH EARTH FRIENDS BE FEW;

AND NOW HE IS WATCHING IN TENDERNESS O’ER ME;

AND OH, THAT MY SAVIOR WERE YOUR SAVIOR, TOO.

FOR YOU I AM PRAYING, FOR YOU I AM PRAYING, FOR YOU I AM PRAYING,

I’M PRAYING FOR YOU.

Hymn by Fanny Crosby