Further down the page are devotions on other subjects:
Devotions about sharing Christ
Day One – Praying for Those who need Christ
I asked a student on Taiwan whether he had ever shared his faith. He answered, “Yes, I did try it once, but it did not work. So now I know I cannot do it.” One way to help overcome this kind of attitude is to understand more clearly the difference between our role and God’s role. Our role is to share; the results are out of our hands. Please read 2 Corinthians 4:4-6. How does verse 4 explain the reason why some do not believe? How does verse 5 describe our role? In verse 6, who needs to be active in order for people to understand and believe? Verse 6 can also be expressed as a prayer. I asked a Chinese leader how I could pray for the Chinese. He said “Pray that God would open the eyes of their hearts.” I invite you to use the thoughts of verse 6 to pray now for your loved ones who have not yet caught the love of Christ.
Day Two – Where’s the Power?
In sharing God’s Word with others, our hope is that our words would have an effect. To find the key to effective witness, please read Romans 1:16. What is it that has power to bring about salvation? In saying this, it means that other things are excluded. There are things we could say that may be true, but that do not have power. For example, if we tell someone, “you shouldn’t do that”, the sentence is undoubtedly true, but it lacks the power to actually change the person’s behavior. That kind of sentence is “law”, and note what the Bible says about how much power the law has by reading Romans 8:3-4. The law is important, and necessary, but the law does not have the power to change people. God however does have the power to change people, and the details of how He has done it is called the “gospel.” Let us pray that our conversation will be salted with gospel, so that God’s power may come into play.
Day Three – Jesus at the Center
The apostle Paul knew that people at different stages required different kinds of messages. To those who were already Christians, he had a lot to say, as stated in Acts 20:20. But to those who were not yet trusting Jesus, his content was much more focussed, as we see in 1 Corinthians 2:2. This content is called the “gospel,” in its narrow sense, as defined for us in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. (“Gospel” in the wider sense means “all the promises of God,” as contrasted with the demands and threats of God.) We can tell whether we are sharing Gospel by the first few words in our sentences. If we start with “you should,” we are probably about to speak the law. If we start with “I have,” we are about to share a testimony. In order to share gospel as a way of life, we will want to accustom ourselves to starting sentences with “God will” and “Jesus has already.” Pray that these words of life will come often from our lips.
Day Four – The Spirit Falls
As Peter is speaking to the Roman household in Acts 10, a remarkable thing happens: read about it in Acts 10:44. This certainly is our hope every time we are talking with someone who is in need of God’s help. So it is instructive to note what Peter was talking about when this happened. The Spirit came upon these people, but he was not talking about the Spirit. The Spirit came upon these people, but they were not praying for the Spirit. Take a moment to read the verses that lead up to the wonderful result. Read Acts 10:36-44. The Spirit falls as we talk about whom? The details Peter shared about Jesus are found in each of the cases found in the book of Acts where the disciples took the opportunity to declare their faith. There is always some statement of our human need (sins), some explanation of how God provided the solution through the work of Jesus (Jesus died and rose), some invitation to receive what God has done (believe), and some declaration of the results of trusting Jesus (forgiveness). Pray that the message of Jesus will be heard by all the people of the world — and that God will prompt you to do your part.
Day Five – The Message
“I would like to be a Christian.” I was astonished to hear those words from an eighth grade student at our school in Taiwan. Could someone that young, with no background, understand what could be involved in that wish? Fortunately, at the time I was unloading boxes of English/Chinese Bibles from the back of my van, so I opened one up to Colossians 1:21 (I invite you to look at it with us). Her version in Chinese said “Once you were God’s enemies because of all the evil things you said and did.” When she told me that this was the way she felt about herself, we went on to verse 22. Her version said, “But now God has made you into His friends again, through the death of His Son.” These two verses correspond to the first two areas that the apostles brought up when they shared in the Book of Acts. Note that the beginning of verse 23 brings up the idea of faith (the third area in the “salvation message”). The end of verse 22 brings up the fourth area, “results.” When she told me that she did trust in Jesus, we turned together to verse 27, and then I asked her where Jesus was, based on her trust in Him. “In my heart”, she said. Pray that the Spirit will continue to work miracles like this, not only on Taiwan, but with those whom God has placed around you.
Day Six – We Cannot Help it
The word “witnessing” conjures up various emotions: sometimes a fear of offending others, or guilt at lost opportunities, or wishing we were better prepared. We can grow as a witness by noting the times when we have no trouble talking about something, and asking ourselves what keeps us from talking about God in that same natural way. Our goal is to be able to say what the disciples said in Acts 4:20. When my wife gets a new recipe, or I get a good deal on a used car, we cannot help but tell others about it. We do not need to attend a training program first; it comes naturally. When someone once asked me why my witness for Christ didn’t flow that readily, I realized that my witnessing was not just a matter of learning some techniques, but that my witness was an accurate reflection of my spiritual state. However, as we continue to live the life style of instantaneous repentance, trust in forgiveness, and submission to Jesus, we will grow to the point where we also, like the apostles, will not be able to hide the life that is at work within us. Let us pray for spiritual growth that will spring forth spontaneously in natural witness.
Day Seven – It’s about Promise
How can witnessing become part of daily life? Read Acts 1:8. The word “shall” here is not a command, as in “thou shalt be my witnesses.” It is a future tense, which makes it into a promise: “you will discover that you have become my witnesses.” Actually, everything we do is a witness — of something. Sometimes our words and actions demonstrate that God is the central factor in our lives, but at other times our natural reactions give a witness that God has been temporarily placed on the back shelf. But the exciting part about the promise in this verse is not that we would witness — we do that anyway — but that our witness would be “of him”, that is, of Jesus. According to the verse, this happens as who takes over in our lives? And how does the Spirit get to work in us? Each time we catch ourselves in a word or action that communicates something other than the life of Jesus in us, we know the Spirit is on the job, as Jesus says in John 16:8. And every time we’re prompted to say “I’m sorry — no excuses — please forgive me — please change me”, that return to Christ is also the Spirit in action, according to 1 Corinthians 12:3. Let us thank God for this promise, and ask Him to bring it about in our personal lives.
Six devotions on “Forgiveness” by Jim Found,© 2011
Day One – Fill my cup
At those times when we find it difficult to forgive others, we can gain from looking at Ephesians 4:32. Note the words “just as.” These words remind us that forgiving others is a response to God forgiving us. That’s the point Jesus makes in the parable from Sunday: the servant “should have” forgiven because he had received forgiveness, as the master tells him in Matthew 18:33. Of course we know that we “should” forgive, but do we sometimes rationalize having some lingering unforgiveness because “how could I forgive as Jesus did – after all, He is God, and I am only human.” The good news is that Christ is willing and able to give us the ability to forgive. Consider the verse about love in 1 John 4:19. God gives us love, and as a result we are able to love others. According to Romans 5:5, God fills us with love, and that love overflows into acts of forgiveness, just like a canteen cannot help but spill out water if you keep pouring it in after it is already full.
Day Two – Relationship Glue
God has created us in a way that we find total fulfillment as humans by being in relationships, as indicated as early on as Genesis 2:18. So it is no surprise that the fallenness of mankind will be shown up in the difficulty of maintaining relationships. Hebrews 12:15 speaks of the “bitter root” of unforgiveness that not only is wrong in itself, not only harmful to us, but also destructive to the community. As fallen people, we are bound to do sinful acts that will offend others, and thus damage the very fellowship that we need and crave. Forgiveness is the glue that holds our relationships together. Peter 4:8 shows what love does when sin is prevalent. This love shows itself in forgiveness .1 John 1:7 shows the results for our community when we “live in the light” with one another.
Day Three — Old and New natures
Read Ephesians 4:25-32 and note the things that the believers in Ephesus must have been doing wrong (assuming that the very fact that Paul had to chide them means that they needed some chiding in these areas). Verse 32 leads us to suspect that they must not have been forgiving one another as they should. They were giving in to their old nature, and therefore their relationships were being destroyed. But Paul shows us God’s solution in Ephesians 4:22-24. Though the old nature is wrecking our relationships, we have been given a new nature, and it is in the very essence of the new nature to want to forgive. In the verse, Paul did not mean they did not yet have a new nature, but that they were not making use of it. He then tells us the two steps to take: “put off the old,” which we do by repenting (“I’m sorry I have not been forgiving”) and then “put on the new” by turning to Christ, who strengthens our new nature. Philippians 2:13 shows that God does promise to work within us.
Day Four – When You are a Victim
Our society is riddled with revelations of abuse, dishonesty, corruption, and hateful violence. Does God really expect us to forgive those who have harmed us? Sometimes we may withhold forgiveness because we don’t want to imply that we condone or accept the bad actions. But forgiveness does not mean that we condone the actions. Look at how Jesus handled his victimization, in 1 Peter 2:22-23. He didn’t condone the evil that was done against him, but what He did do was put the handling of justice into God’s hands. God has taken the authority for doing justice, as explained in Romans 12:19. If God chooses to involve you in bringing about His justice, you will be able to do your part more “justly” if you have already forgiven the offender in your heart. When Jesus forgave from the cross (Luke 23:34) he said that his enemies “know not what they do.” He saw that the victimizers were also victims. This realization may help us to forgive and pray for those who have wronged us, and perhaps even to go further, as we’re taught in 1 Peter 3:9.
Day Five – Catching Satan in the Act
Satan actively tries to disrupt Christ’s plans for His people. John 13:35 envisions a community held together with love and forgiveness. Withholding thus forgiveness plays right into Satan’s hands. According to Ephesians 4:26, unforgiveness also provides a foothold for Satan to wreak further havoc in our lives and in the fellowship. But if we are aware that Satan works in this way, as Paul explains in 2 Corinthians 2:10-11, we can recognize that when someone offends us, the enemy is not the offender, but rather Satan, who is using his wiles against us. When we sense the impulse to take revenge rather than forgive, we have caught Satan red-handed. Satan was moving us to do something clearly against God’s Word (Colossians 3:13). When we forgive unconditionally, we are preventing Satan from getting that foothold.
Day Six – Kingdom Living
Note how Paul describes Christ’s kingdom at the end of Colossians 1:13-14. Kingdom and forgiveness go together. Matthew 13:11 tells us that Jesus came to teach us about the Kingdom, and so it is natural that Jesus would emphasize forgiveness. When Christ provides us with the Lord’s prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), the “Thy kingdom come” is followed a few lines later by the part about forgiveness for those who have been transferred into God’s kingdom are those who live in “forgiving and being forgiven.” Forgiveness is Kingdom Living. The end of Matthew 6:14 then can be seen as describing life when it is not “kingdom living.” When we catch ourselves being unforgiving, we repent and turn to God for forgiveness, which refills us with the desire to pass that forgiveness and love on to others, as it did for the woman in Luke 7:47. Likewise the strict action of the master in Matthew 18:34 is to be seen as to our benefit, to bring us to repent, just as David saw that the unpleasant symptoms of unrepentance in Psalm 32:3-5 were for his benefit, leading him to experience God’s forgiveness.
Six devotions on “Dedication” by Jim Found,© 2011
Day Five. Dedicating the will. Every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we are including a dedication: the one written in Matthew 6:10. This kind of dedication is the kind shown by Christ in Matthew 26:42. The problem is that my sinful self simply does not want to give up its will, and in fact actively opposes God’s will; read Matthew 26:41 and Romans 7:18-19. We know from experience that though we may make resolutions to do better, we often are disappointed because of our failure to keep them. We find that getting our flesh to do God’s will is not only difficult – the Bible says it is impossible (Romans 8:7-8). What a relief to know that Jesus, the only one who always does the will of the Father (John 6:38), has come to live within us (Galatians 4:6), and that God is at work in us to give us both the desire and the power to do His will (Philippians 2:13). Prayer: “Take my will and make it Thine, it shall be no longer mine; take my heart, it is Thine own, it shall be Thy royal throne.”
Day Six. It’s about love. Please read Deuteronomy 5:6-7 . Which comes first here, God’s action or our action? God acts first, and our action in response is to forsake other gods, and to be dedicated to Him alone. The rest of the ten commandments give details about the life that is dedicated to God, and finally comes the verse that sums up the ten commandments: read Deuteronomy 6:5. This command to “love” is called the “greatest command” by Jesus (Matthew 22:37-38), and is another way of describing the concept of “dedication;” see also Romans 13:10. Like all laws, though, its main impact on me is pointing up how often I fall short. That’s why living this life of dedicated love can only be something that God does within me; my part is to repent and believe. Please read Romans 5:5. Because God pours his love into our hearts, he enables us to make the response of love, as it says in 1 John 4:19. 1 John 5:3 tells how I show my love for God, and 1 John 4:20 makes clear that my love for God is made visible by the way I treat those around me. Please read 2 Corinthians 5:14. What is it in this verse that impels us to show love? Prayer: “Take my love, my Lord, I pour at thy feet its treasure-store; take myself and I will be, ever, only, all for Thee.”
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