BibleFood "classic" Devotional [slightly updated]
"But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and YE SHALL BE WITNESSES unto ME both in JERUSALEM, and in all JUDAEA, and in SAMARIA, and unto the UTTERMOST PART OF THE EARTH." - Acts 1:8
Over the years I have ministered to the lost and hurting through various means. Some periods in my life were more full of sharing Christ, other times just seemed as dry as could be. I have cried out to God to help me get back to sharing the Gospel with the lost and hurting more.
I believe God led me into a form of evangelism that I had not used often enough or effectively in the past. That is what I'll call "Lifestyle Evangelism." What I mean by that [which is different than some people's definition] is that we don't just share Christ on our weekly "witnessing outreach," where maybe every Friday night we flood the streets and pass out tracts, or every Saturday we go door to door witnessing, etc. [don't even see this much anymore in 2014]. In NO way are we not to do those things if God has put us in such an outreach, but don't think that's your only time to witness. There are still all the other days of the week to witness for God. We are truly ALL on a mission from God to be available 24 hours a day to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.
I don't consider myself an evangelist - I really don't. But I do believe I am on a mission from God to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. About 10 years ago I took a job that was not easy for me. ALL I would hear in my heart was "You are a missionary to your fellow employees." As long as I kept my focus on that I was fine, but when I started to just think of my job as a job, that is when I ran into problems (just being honest)!
Also, the LORD was moving me on to a new mission field [billiard industry, see my site at: www.christianpoolplayers.com], which involved what I consider a mission trip to work with a billiards/pool ministry (www.gospeltrickshot.com). It was a glorious time of taking an INTEREST in the lost and hurting people around me, and it was a great time of ministry. But that was only for a week!
So, did I come home and just stop sharing about the lost and hurting? Absolutely not!
I was called on a mission from God BEFORE I went to Las Vegas, while I was there, and now back in my homeland (Atlanta, Georgia)! THE MISSION STAYS THE SAME!!!
Acts 1:8 says, "...YE SHALL BE WITNESSES unto ME both in JERUSALEM, and in all JUDAEA, and in SAMARIA, and unto the UTTERMOST PART OF THE EARTH."
We are to be God's WITNESS of the Good News of Jesus Christ in our Jerusalem, then in whatever may be our Judaea, and our Samaria, and then to end all debates, God says, "...UNTO THE UTTERMOST PART OF THE EARTH." I guess that leaves NO place for us to not be His witnesses!!!
Does that mean we have to run up to everyone we meet and ask them do they know Jesus? Personally, I don't think so. But let me tell you when you look at EVERY place you go as your MISSION FIELD, i.e., your job, going to the grocery store, coaching kids in sports, filling up the car at the gas station, and where ever else your day brings you - I'll tell you it's exciting.
Do I share Christ everywhere I go? No! But I try to stay alert to God opening a door to minister with Christ to someone. I believe the more alert we are in Christ and available. the more opportunities the LORD will put us in.
I'm sure I have missed many opportunities to share Christ, but Praise God I'm learning to be alert and available as His minister (servant) on a 24/7 basis.
This devotion is NOT to get you into a guilt trip or bondage. I've known some who would try to put you in that state. Just be available to God 24/7 and believe for opportunities. I'm telling you they'll happen!!!
I also want to close with what I'll call
"Friendship Evangelism," which is what God has used me most often in for the last year or so.
Without EVER compromising, I have built relationships with family, neighbors, coworkers, and strangers to give me opportunity to sow seeds (big or small) into people's lives over a period of time. In Las Vegas it was over a few days or a week. Here in Atlanta, GA, and on the Internet (in some cases) it is brief, and in other cases it has been over a year or more. But they are being built, and in God's timetable He will open opportunities to share Christ with them more and more. In some cases they will be even coming to YOU to have you tell them more about Jesus. This is NOT loving the WORLD (I John 2:15-17). But loving THOSE IN THE WORLD, until we see them come from this dark world to being a citizen of heaven (Phil. 3:20).
Take this devotion as an encouragement, and allow God to open the opportunities, just be alert and available :-)
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. John 15:1, 2
As we look into the pruning process I must share my wife's pruning ability. When I first saw the pruning work of my wife, Joyce, I thought she killed the plant or at least stunted its growth forever. Boy, was I wrong! It grew back and looked great! Now, if my wife does a heavy duty pruning I trust her, as I have seen that her pruning is helping the plant. Also, after my wife first prunes a plant it is rather ugly, but given time it turns beautiful.
Most of you know that trees need pruning in order to grow properly and bear fruit. Pruning involves cutting off the dead branches and cutting back the living branches, both to shape the tree or vine and to stimulate growth. So much more with our heavenly Father, as He is the perfect pruner, when He prunes us we know that He knows what He's doing and the end result is you will be more beautiful in God's vineyard. According to this verse, pruning sounds to me like a painful process! However, as painful as it can be to go through this “process,” it is necessary and worthwhile. Think about it, the branch that bears NO FRUIT is history, but it is the fruit bearing branch that he PRUNES so that it will bear MORE FRUIT. As Christians you are pruned NOT because you have no fruit, but so you'll have even more.
1. God's pruning is to get rid of stuff in our life that is not healthy.
Often we allow sin (always wrong and bad) or even weights (not necessarily bad/sin, but not beneficial, something that holds us back) into our lives, and it hinders us from bearing fruit or much fruit.
Heb. 12:11 states: " For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."
Heb. 12:1 states: "...let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us..."
2. God’s pruning redirects our spiritual growth.
Each branch that is cut stops the plant's growth in one direction and redirects it in another. Sometimes God shuts a door in one area because He wants to refocus our efforts, energy and gifting in another – often one where He knows we’ll be more effective. If we exist to bring God glory and build His kingdom, it’s not so much about where I want to go and what I want to do, but where He can use me the most.
3. God’s pruning improves the quantity and quality of fruit in our lives.
Pruning at the right time and in the right place can actually increase the number of shoots produced by a plant, thus, increasing its yield. A temporary decrease in an area of your life will actually bring the increase! Don’t give up on the vision God has given you, but press on. Your breakthrough could be right around the next corner.
Jesus desires for us to bear fruit for him, we start with fruit, then MORE fruit and then MUCH fruit.
I like what I have heard stated that we find ourselves in one of three states right now.
Either we are:
1. Being pruned
2. Healing/recovering after being pruned or
3. We are in full bloom. (But don’t get too excited if you are in full bloom, because you are about to be pruned again.)
If you are a Christian, you are going to be pruned. Count on it. None of us are immune to it. You may not be in the pruning process right now…you may be in full bloom, enjoying a relatively easy life. Praise God! Enjoy it! But don’t get too comfortable…the scissors are going to come your way again!