Welcome back to my weekly devotions. I pray that you have been reading the 40 daily devotions from the Red Letter Challenge. They are well written, focusing on Jesus’ actual words, and they inspire us to put His Words into action. It all begins with spending time BEING with the Lord and His Word…and then GOING out and DOING what it says!
An international gathering of youth met for a full week to discuss how better to promulgate Christ’s message to the world. Those assembled for the conference read many informative essays, heard many fine speakers, watched a few videos, and had ample time to discuss with each other. At the end and probably because of a little frustration with the proceedings a young woman from East Africa arose and said, “In my country when we hear that a pagan village is ready to accept the Gospel, we don’t send books, videos, a Bible or even an evangelist. Rather we send the best Christian family we can find because we have found that the example of a good family speaks louder and more clearly than all the books, speeches, and videos in the world.”
The truly important things in life are generally the intangibles, like the way we present ourselves to others. When we least expect it, we are witnessing. It is in our simple day to day living that we are the strongest advocates for our Lord. These simple intangibles that people notice will open the door for you to speak. You don’t need to be a seminary professor to win people to Christ. Be you… and tell your story. That’s what will fulfill the Great Commission.
This last weekend many Christian churches celebrated the Pentecost. The word means 50, in this case 50 days after Easter. It is the day that the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles and disciples. It is the beginning of the Christian church (including us Gentiles). Equipping them (and us) to Go out and share the Gospel.
I love the fact that Royal Redeemer confirmed 22 young adults to go out and live and share their faith on the 16th…and then last Sunday we had an outside worship and celebration…bringing all of our worship services together (450 people plus on-line)…one church! We celebrated the fact that 800 of us spent time BEING in God’s Word for the last 40 days…and equipping us to Go and DO what God’s Word challenges us to do.
A couple of weeks ago, I heard an illustration about movies that really got me thinking.
Have you ever gone to a movie…tried to follow along…and then “wham” a surprise ending? We have all said the words “I didn’t see that one coming!!!” Many times, we question “how did that happen” or…”How does that make sense???”
Well, have you ever re-watched that same movie later on? Only this time you are watching that movie with the facts of the surprise ending fixed on your mind. Parts of the movie that did not make sense, now fit into place. Things that seemed unimportant or confusing take on new meaning.
Well…after Jesus died in front of His followers and was buried, it looked like a bad ending to the story of Jesus! But, there was a surprise ending…an ending that no one saw coming…even though it was revealed all along.
Luke 24:44-45… He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
It’s like Jesus wants them to watch the movie over again, but with the knowledge of His (special ending)… His resurrection!
(vs. 46-48) Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.
They (and you!) are called to be witnesses…to tell what you have seen and heard…to proclaim the Truth. Sometimes (for many reasons) witnesses are afraid to come forward and to tell what they have seen. For some reason, it can seem scary telling people about who Jesus is and how He has impacted your life. God knew that was the case for the disciples as well, so…
(vs. 49) I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
And that is what Pentecost is all about. In this verse Jesus tells them that the Holy Spirit will empower them and give them the words to say! Pentecost is about the Holy Spirit working in and through those present to reveal who Jesus is and to Glorify the Lord! (take time to read the story in Acts 2)
Now you may say… “nice story but what about me?” Well, the same Holy Spirit comes into your life through Word and Sacrament. Through your baptism (if you are not baptized contact me so we can talk about it) as well as every time you read and hear God’s Word (if you need help on what to read, let me know and I will help you)
So…You have the Spirit in you, now what? Should I stand on the street corner and yell…”repent or go to hell!” No, but a great verse to guide you is:
1 Peter 3:15-16… But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
It says to be ready…when the right time and situation arises…to share (using “I” statements) how God’s Love has impacted you. Remember it will be the Holy Spirit’s job to give you the words and to transform the other person. Your job is to be available to be a witness to the TRUTH.
Two persons were talking together before a large church which was being destroyed by fire. The first man spoke in a voice which could be heard above the voice of the firemen: “This is the first time I ever saw you at church.” To this the second responded: “This is the first time I ever saw the church on fire.”
We (you) are called to be “on fire for the Lord!”
If you witnessed an incredible event or a miracle, you would tell everyone you know about it…well, do the same for the miracle of the Gospel in your life.
- What will you say when the opportunity arises? What is your testimony regarding Jesus Christ? Keep it short, just the facts, no complicated “churchy” words.
- Who do you know that God may want you to share your story with? Keep your eyes and ears open to know when and where to share your story. Remember it’s your story, let the Holy Spirit work in their hearts.
- Share your faith through your actions…look for ways to show your faith through your actions…your love and support for those in need. Who can you help?
Humor for the day:
How do we know the Apostles drove a Honda? “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one accord.”
OK….one more….not meant to offend anyone:
A group of Christians are tasked with changing a lightbulb.
The Charismatic changes it easily; his hands are already up.
The Roman Catholic refuses; he prefers candles.
The Pentecostal changes it while his friends pray against the Lord of Darkness.
The Christian Scientist can’t, but he prays for the light to turn back on.
The Calvinist refuses; God has predestined when the light will be on.
The Episcopalian changes the lightbulb while his friends say how much they liked the old one.
The Mormon tries to change it as five wives tell him how to do it right.
The Baptist changes the lightbulb, gets it approved by three committees, and then they all eat some casserole.
The Lutheran refuses: he doesn’t believe in change.
The Unitarian chooses not to make a statement either in favor of, or against, the need for a lightbulb. However, if in your own journey you have found that lightbulbs work for you, you are encouraged to create a poem or modern dance about your personal relationship with the lightbulb, and present it next Sunday when we will explore a number of lightbulb traditions including incandescent, fluorescent, halogen, compact fluorescent, low-pressure sodium, and LED, all of which are equally valid paths to luminescence.
Have a great day!