Gentle Witness

 

Gentle Witness

From: Our Daily Bread
You shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. —Acts 1:8
Bible in a Year:
Joshua 16-18; Luke 2:1-24

Years ago, I was hospitalized following a life-threatening, 38-foot fall from a bridge. While I was there, the wife of the man in the next bed stopped to speak to me. “My husband just told me what happened to you,” she said. “We believe God spared your life because He wants to use you. We’ve been praying for you.”

I was stunned. I had grown up going to church, but I had never imagined that God would want to be involved in my life. Her words pointed me to a Savior I had heard of but did not know—and marked the beginning of my coming to Christ. I cherish the memory of those words from a gentle witness who cared enough to say something to a stranger about the God whose love is real. Her words conveyed care and concern, and offered purpose and promise.

Jesus challenged His disciples—and us—to tell others about the love of God: “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

Through the Holy Spirit our words and witness can have the power to make an eternal difference in the lives of others.

I love to tell the story of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love,
I love to tell the story, because I know ’tis true;
It satisfies my longings as nothing else can do. —Hankey
A caring word can accomplish more than we could ever imagine.

 

And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the Lord which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee: Deliver me, I pray thee (Gen. 32:9, 11).

There are many healthy symptoms in that prayer. In some respects it may serve as a mould into which our own spirits may pour themselves, when melted in the fiery furnace of sorrow.

He began by quoting God’s promise: “Thou saidst.” He did so twice (9 and 12). Ah, he has got God in his power then! God puts Himself within our reach in His promises; and when we can say to Him, “Thou saidst,” He cannot say nay. He must do as He has said.

If Jacob was so particular for his oath’s sake, what will not our God be? Be sure in prayer, to get your feet well on a promise; it will give you purchase enough to force open the gates of heaven, and to take it by force.
–Practical Portions for the Prayer-life

Jesus desires that we shall be definite in our requests, and that we shall ask for some special thing. “What will ye that I shall do unto you?” is the question that He asks of every one who in affliction and trial comes to Him. Make your requests with definite earnestness if you would have definite answers. Aimlessness in prayer accounts for so many seemingly unanswered prayers. Be definite in your petition. Fill out your check for something definite, and it will be cashed at the bank of Heaven when presented in Jesus’ Name. Dare to be definite with God.
–Selected

Miss Havergal has said: “Every year, I might almost say every day, that I live, I seem to see more clearly how all the rest and gladness and power of our Christian life hinges on one thing; and that is, taking God at His word, believing that He really means exactly what He says, and accepting the very words in which He reveals His goodness and grace, without substituting others or altering the precise modes and tenses which He has seen fit to use.”

Bring Christ’s Word–Christ’s promise, and Christ’s sacrifice–His blood, with thee, and not one of Heaven’s blessings can be denied thee.
–Adam Clarke

Decreasing for His Purpose

From: My Utmost For His Highest

He must increase, but I must decrease —John 3:30

If you become a necessity to someone else’s life, you are out of God’s will. As a servant, your primary responsibility is to be a “friend of the bridegroom” (John 3:29). When you see a person who is close to grasping the claims of Jesus Christ, you know that your influence has been used in the right direction. And when you begin to see that person in the middle of a difficult and painful struggle, don’t try to prevent it, but pray that his difficulty will grow even ten times stronger, until no power on earth or in hell could hold him away from Jesus Christ. Over and over again, we try to be amateur providences in someone’s life. We are indeed amateurs, coming in and actually preventing God’s will and saying, “This person should not have to experience this difficulty.” Instead of being friends of the Bridegroom, our sympathy gets in the way. One day that person will say to us, “You are a thief; you stole my desire to follow Jesus, and because of you I lost sight of Him.”

Beware of rejoicing with someone over the wrong thing, but always look to rejoice over the right thing. “. . . the friend of the bridegroom . . . rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:29-30). This was spoken with joy, not with sadness-at last they were to see the Bridegroom! And John said this was his joy. It represents a stepping aside, an absolute removal of the servant, never to be thought of again.

Listen intently with your entire being until you hear the Bridegroom’s voice in the life of another person. And never give any thought to what devastation, difficulties, or sickness it will bring. Just rejoice with godly excitement that His voice has been heard. You may often have to watch Jesus Christ wreck a life before He saves it (see Matthew 10:34).

Hurry Up and Wait

From: Get more strength.com
“A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly” Proverbs 14:29

One of my all-time favorite school teacher stories is about a kindergarten teacher who at the end of an exasperating day had to put boots on all 31 of her students before she sent them out in the snow. As she struggled to lace up the last boot on the foot of the 31st student, the child looked at her and said, “These aren’t my boots.” Thinking that she would have to go back and re-boot the whole class, she furiously ripped off the boots only to hear the kindergartener say, “They’re my sister’s boots, but my mom let me wear them today.”

Does life ever try your patience? Of course it does. There is just something about being born on this planet that makes us vulnerable to snap, often destructive, responses to life’s inevitable stress.

What is it that pushes you to the edge? Is it that guy who keeps cutting you off in heavy traffic or your daughter who keeps snapping her bubble gum every 10 seconds? It’s different for all of us, but we’ve all experienced that temptation to explode when somebody or something stomps on our frayed nerves.

I hate to up the pressure, but it’s in moments of near-nuclear explosions that we find out how closely we’re walking with the Lord. Galatians 5:22 says, “And the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience.” When life takes us to the edge, it’s easy to tell if we are being controlled by the Holy Spirit, or whether our old nature is going to step up to manage the situation.

Being patient doesn’t mean that we morph into milk-toast people for Jesus, with no fire in our belly. But the kind of patience that the Spirit wishes to produce does bring restraint to our anger. Anger always clouds good judgment while patience helps us stand back and evaluate the tension in a constructive way. As our text says, “A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly.”

Patience says “no” to our “gut reaction” to do the first thing that comes to mind. When your gut reaction is: “I’m quitting this job right now!” patience says, “Why don’t you give it a few days and pray about it. Think about how this will affect your future and your family.” Patience gives you the space you need to make better decisions. An impulsive “I’m heading to the dealership right now to buy that new car!” may need patience to slow you down long enough to ask yourself, “What’s wrong with the car I have? Is there anything better that God would want me to do with the money?”

And, patience may just get your anxious little self out of the way so that God can accomplish what He has in mind through the trial that has you so frazzled. The psalmist helps us when he says, “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:13-14 NASB).

And Isaiah assures us that “those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary” (Isaiah 40:31 NASB).

So all together now: Let’s take a deep breath, step back, and patiently wait for Him to manage your response. No wonder patience is called a virtue!

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