While you likely aren’t thinking of yourself as a mighty warrior these days, this scripture addressed to Gideon does apply to us as we carry out our My1 relationships.
God was calling Gideon to deliver the Israelites. Yet he was an unlikely candidate and unsure of himself. Like Moses, Gideon had all sorts of excuses as to why he ought not to be the one to lead his countrymen. (“My clan is the weakest.” “I am the least of my family.”) But God had answers for all of Gideon’s objections, and He assured Gideon that he was His choice. Then He gave Gideon this promise in verse 16: “I will be with you.”
Are you unsure of yourself in reaching out to your unchurched My1? Well, just as God called Gideon, He is calling each of us to reach out to others on His behalf (see Matthew 28:19). He has chosen us, for some reason, to reach the world. We can claim the same promise given to Gideon: He will go with us.
Thank Him today for the privilege of being called by Him, thank Him for His enabling, and thank Him for His continued presence.
Who is my neighbor?
Love your neighbor as yourself. Mark 12:31 And who is my neighbor? Luke 10:29
Jesus used the Parable of the Good Samaritan to make a scribe examine his motives. When the scribe asked what he must do to inherit eternal life, Jesus turned the question back: “Well, what do you think?” The scribe quickly responded, “I need to love God with all my heart and love my neighbor as myself.” With that, the scribe should have left well enough alone. But he wanted to justify himself, so he continued, “But who is my neighbor?” And that question opened the door for Jesus to tell his parable, showing that God has a broader definition of “neighbor” than people like to hear. Loving one’s neighbor, He taught, is more than simply loving those who are like us and who can love us in return.
As the parable teaches, our neighbor is anyone in our proximity with whom we can share God’s love. We are called not only to love those who are similar to us or with whom we are comfortable, but all whom God places in our path.
We love these neighbors by genuinely seeking what is best for them. It doesn’t mean agreeing with everything they say or do, nor does it mean acting in ways that always gain their approval. Loving our neighbors means attending to their needs—both physical and spiritual. We love our neighbors, including our neighbors who seem like enemies to us, when we act toward them with a heart that first loves God. We love out of an overflow of God’s love for us and ultimately as a way of demonstrating our love toward God.
Let’s hang out!
When Jesus got to the tree, He looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, hurry down. Today is My day to be a guest in your home! Luke 19:5 (The Message)
Jesus sets a great example here for us. He saw Zacchaeus and cared nothing about his status or standing in the community. Here was someone who needed Him, so He just said, “Come on! I’m going to hang out with you!” Read on in this scripture and you find that Zacchaeus was delighted to have Jesus as a guest: “Zacchaeus scrambled out of the tree, hardly believing his good luck.” Scripture doesn’t tell us why Zacchaeus was so pleased to have Jesus as a guest. Maybe it was because he, as a tax collector, got little respect from the religious Jews and he thought Jesus’ visit would elevate him in their eyes.
No matter the reason, Jesus ignored accepted conventions to spend time with Zacchaeus, and there were results! Here is a man whom we will see in the kingdom!
Similarly, we must learn from Jesus to see men and women in our daily experience who need God – and be ready take advantage even of curiosity (if that is what Zacchaeus had) to introduce them to Christ. You can define “hang out” any way you like. On the phone, in person, at your home, in their home, at a ball game, at a movie, out to lunch. You name it!
You DO have energy for this!
But those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31
You probably have had days when you thought, “I just can’t add another thing to my schedule!” Likely, your days were full before you were reminded that it is every individual’s job to carry out the great commission. And then you were asked to add to your schedule by choosing and starting a relationship with your My1!
But you can do this. We all can. We simply need to rely on the Lord for renewed strength. But note: the condition for renewing our strength is “waiting upon the Lord.” The Hebrew word for “wait” means “looking unto and expecting from.” We look unto God when we pray; then we expect answers from Him. We wait prayerfully and expect trustingly.
When we start each day in the Word and in prayer, we can proceed refreshed and renewed, assured we have His strength – not ours – for the day. When we wait upon the Lord, we can rise above the demands of our schedules. We can run and not grow weary; we can walk and not faint.
Vessels in the hand of the Master
If anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. II Timothy 2:21
Just as we have multiple pots, pans, vases, and pitchers in our homes, God also has a variety of vessels. There are various types and styles, and He has different uses for each. Some are used occasionally, others often. Some are in prominent places; others are hidden from view. All are of equal importance in His work. God’s requirement is that the vessels be clean and empty so He can fill them with Himself. A vessel in the home is useless in itself. It is useful only in the hand of the Master of the house. Similarly, God’s vessels are to yield themselves as instruments in His hand for Him to use.
Have you heard of the story of the famous violinist who was to give a concert on his expensive Stradivarius? The hall was filled to capacity, and violinist played gloriously. When he finished, there was a moment’s hush and then a burst of applause, during which he smashed the instrument on the edge of the platform. When quiet was restored, the artist said, “Ladies and gentlemen, on the way to the concert hall, I bought this violin for five shillings. Now, if you will bear with me, I will play for you on my Stradivarius.”
The vessel itself is not so important as its willingness to be used in the hand of the Master. May each of us be a vessel set apart and useful for honorable and noble purposes, ready for every good work in the Master’s hand.
Praying for the unchurched
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior. I Timothy 2:1, 3
This scripture is a clear command for us to pray for non-believers. Our Savior wants “all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (I Timothy 2:4). So, when we pray for the salvation of an unsaved person, we are simply sharing in the stated desire of Jesus.
Salvation for your My1 is not the only thing to pray for. Here are some other concerns (from the Kendricks’ Battle Plan for Prayer). Pray that God will:
Disconnect them from influences that are pulling them away from Christ (John 7:47-52)
Expose the lies they’ve believed that have kept them from Christ (2 Cor. 4:4)
Convict them of sin and their need for a Savior (John 3:18; 16:8-9; I Cor. 1:18; Eph. 2:1)
Charles Spurgeon said, regarding the need to pray for the unchurched, “If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.”
But maybe you’re at a loss for words
The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us… Romans 8:26
Have you ever knelt in prayer and felt you didn’t know how to pray? You just couldn’t seem to find the words to voice the need of your heart? God, in His mercy and knowing our feeling of weakness in prayer, provided a Helper for us – the Holy Spirit. A member of the Trinity, the Spirit prays in us and for us. Thus, prayer is God’s work in us through His Spirit.
At times, we may become so burdened as we pray that we cannot pray audible words, until we almost despair of praying at all. If that happens, we need not become discouraged. The Spirit is our prayer Helper. He understands our groaning and knows how to pray our groaning before the throne of God.
Through the Spirit of prayer, our lives may be lives of continual prayer. The Spirit of prayer will help us become intercessors, asking great things of God for those around us, like our My1’s.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses…to the end of the earth. Acts 1:8
In this verse, God lays out His marching orders for us: we are to be His witnesses – everywhere. While a witness tells what he or she knows about something, not all of us can be great missionaries reaching “the end of the earth.” But we can be witnesses for Him where we are.
In this verse, God didn’t just tell us to go out and do His work. He knew we wouldn’t be able to accomplish it on our own. Nor would He want us to. (You can imagine what a mess we would make of it on our own!) God told us what will reach the world (and our My1’s) with His message: the power of the Holy Spirit living in us.
Allowing the Spirit to live and work in us, though, is usually easier said than done. As humans, we want to do things our way, on our own, and to get credit for our successes. If we try to accomplish God’s work in the world in our own power, we will fail. So, what are we to do? (We’ll dig into this tomorrow.)
Set your mind on the things of the Spirit
Those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. Romans 8:5b
God can do amazing things through ordinary people – like us – when we allow Him to use His Spirit in us.
The New International Version of this verse uses the term “have their mind set” to describe the outlook people have when they are allowing the Spirit to work in their lives. Think of that term, “mind-set.” A mindset tells what a person thinks about most. It is what a person lives for. It is what determines behavior.
It’s a little like a computer operating system which controls what happens every time you touch a key. Yet it is working in the background, unseen. Like the computer operating system, your mindset, working in the background, also controls what happens in your life. As Proverbs 4:23 says, be careful what you think because your thoughts run your life.
So, take care that you have the mindset of the Spirit working in the background of your life, guiding you and empowering you to accomplish God’s will.
Missionaries and mission fields
As my Father has sent me, even so send I you. John 20:21b
Every heart with Christ in it is a missionary; every heart without Christ is a mission field. A missionary is God’s person in God’s place doing God’s work in God’s way for God’s glory. With that definition, it is safe to say that missionary service is not limited to a special group of people in full-time service (like missionaries and pastors). The definition applies to all of us. That’s why you’re reaching out to your My1.
With our Lord’s commission comes His assurance of blessing for our hearts – “Peace be with you” (vs 21a). This peace of heart will carry us into the world with His message for the world. He has no other plan than the one He implemented: training a group of men to be sent out with the Gospel, and others, in turn, joining them in spreading the Word. He’s counting on us in that chain. Let’s thank Him for His trust in us.
It’s harvest time!
Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. John 4:35
Likely, Jesus was looking out on the harvest fields around Him. Yet He was not speaking merely of fields of grain; He was thinking of a greater harvest – a spiritual harvest. And He said the time for this spiritual harvest is now. That was the case when he spoke these words, and it is still the case today. Times have not changed in this regard.
In Jesus’ day, it was the Samaritan “fields” that were ripe. He asked His disciples to look at what was right in front of them. “Look!” He said, “These Samaritan fields are ripe! It’s harvest time!” We also are surrounded by people who need Jesus – we just have to open our eyes and look. And then we must be willing to join Jesus in the harvest work. Because a harvest doesn’t happen on its own. It needs reapers.
God has chosen a My1 for each of us. For now, this is where He is using us in His plan for reaping the harvest. For now, He wants us to show His love and care to the unchurched around us. For now, that’s all. Just love and care of our My1’s. He will take care of the rest, for He is Lord of the harvest.
The least of these
Then He will answer them saying, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” Matthew 25:40
Back in the day, there was a question often contemplated when confronted with how to treat others, or how to serve, or whether to serve: WWJD?
How many times were you reminded to think about what Jesus would do when faced with how to proceed in an uncomfortable situation? And, maybe, if you didn’t act quickly enough, you might have had a “friend” who pointed to his wristband, WWJD, to “help” you come to the “biblical” decision.
WWJD is not a bad question to ask even today. But, when we are in the throes of interacting with others, perhaps an even better question would be, “Would I treat Jesus this way?” Hopefully, the answer would be yes!
The “least of these” in the scripture above refers to people in a variety of needy situations. And Jesus said that those who cared for such individuals were not merely serving other people; they were serving Him. So, when you are serving your My1, remember that your service is ultimately to Christ Himself. And don’t forget – in all situations, it helps to ask the question, “Would I treat Jesus this way?”
You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written in your hearts to be read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ, delivered by us, not written with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. II Corinthians 3:2-3
Much has been said through the years about how a person’s actions need to match what they say. As the axiom goes, “Actions speak louder than words” or “What you do speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you say.”
Genesis 27 tells how Jacob tricked his brother, Esau, into allowing him to have the special blessing which Isaac, his aged father, was to give to Esau. Jacob and his mother, Rebekah, tricked Isaac into believing that Jacob was Esau. Scripture tells us, however, that Isaac wasn’t initially fooled. “The voice is Jacob’s,” he said, “but the hands are those of Esau.” The hands and the voice didn’t agree.
Does what we say agree with what we do? People watch. Many decide they want what we have by watching the way we live. Many decide they don’t.
As we befriend our My1’s, it is most likely that our actions and words will match. But what about with the rest of the watching world? Let’s be careful to make our actions match our words, because many people will never read Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. They will be reading the Gospel according to you.
Aim to please!
Finally, believers, we ask and admonish you in the Lord Jesus, that you follow the instruction you received from us about how you ought to walk and please God, and that you excel even more and more [pursuing a life of purpose and living in a way that expresses gratitude to God for your salvation]. I Thessalonians 4:1 (Amplified)
How much time do we spend trying to please others? We spare no effort in seeking to please those who are near and dear to us. We are interested in the things which interest them. We enjoy what they enjoy. We do what they do; go where they go. We listen to what they have to say. We want to spend time with them.
Such was the life of Paul. His one absorbing desire was to please God: “We make it our aim,” he said, “whether in our home or away, to please Him” (II Corinthians 5:9).
So, here are questions we must ask ourselves: Am I interested in the things of God? Do I go with Him where He leads? Do I listen to what He has to say? Do I want to spend time with Him?
Are our lives dedicated to pleasing God, or are our goals to make a name for ourselves? to please our families? to accumulate a bank account? to occupy a position of honor?
When we love Him with all our hearts, we will seek to please Him and to be obedient to His every wish.
Carry His fragrance!
For we are, to God, the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved. 2 Corinthians 2:15
The value that some people put on perfumes is amazing. A quick Google search reveals that Saks Fifth Avenue is selling a 3.4 ounce bottle of Roja Parfum for $3,500! And people are buying!
In this scripture, Paul tells us something about the importance of perfume. He says we are the sweet fragrance of Christ, spreading and making evident the fragrance of the knowledge of God. We are perfume-bearers, carrying the sweet fragrance of our Lord to our My1’s!
If we are to do this, however, His fragrance must first permeate our lives. How does that happen? Consider this: have you ever made a trip to Hawaii and been given a lei of fragrant flowers? After wearing it for several hours, the pungent odor of the flowers will have permeated your clothing – just by having been next to the flowers. Likewise, it is impossible to linger in our Lord’s presence without carrying His fragrance. So, we must spend time with Him!
Ultimately, His fragrance has much more value than that tiny bottle of perfume at Saks. Let’s thank him for making His fragrance discernible in our lives and for the opportunities He provides for us to share it with others.
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23
When the Spirit dwells within us, He also functions as fruit-producer in our lives. This fruit is not from the works of our flesh, because no matter how hard we try, we are incapable of producing such fruit on our own. Maybe we can from time to time, but not on a consistent basis. After all, these are called the fruit of the Spirit, not the fruit of the Christian.
It is the Spirit who must produce the fruit in us. Look at John 15:5, which lays out the plan for bearing “much fruit.” Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit.” This is how Hudson Taylor explains it, “A branch does not bear fruit by incessant effort for sunshine and air. Also, not by vain struggles for those vivifying influences that give beauty to the blossom and virtue to the leaf. It simply abides in the vine in silent, undisturbed union; and then blossoms and fruit appear as spontaneous growth.”
“How then shall a Christian bear fruit? By efforts and struggles to obtain that which is freely given? By meditations on prayer, watchfulness, action, temptations, dangers? No. By simply resting in the vine.”
Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well, whose branches run over the wall. Genesis 49:22
We are probably most familiar with the vine/branch metaphor mentioned in yesterday’s devotion and found in John 15. But in the Old Testament, Jacob spoke of his son Joseph as a bough, which is closer to the tree trunk than are branches. Boughs are stronger than branches and are usually hidden from sight by branches. A tree’s outer branches may be stirred by the wind, but the boughs are not easily moved.
Note also that the verse says the branches from Joseph’s bough “run over the wall.” Walls in our lives keep us set apart for and close to God, but the branches from our boughs can reach up and over the walls, spreading out as a blessing to others.
Can it be said of us, as of Joseph, that we are boughs? As boughs, we live close to the heart of God. As boughs, we are strong in the Lord, not easily tossed about by the winds of life. As boughs, we are hidden from sight so that the world may see Christ in our lives, rather than seeing us.
Let’s ‘One-Another’ with each other
-Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Rom 12:10
-And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all. I Thessalonians 3:12
-And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works. Hebrews 10:24
When we get “one-anothering” right, we emulate the first church and that pleases God. Acts 2:42 identifies four things the disciples devoted themselves to: the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and to prayer. These are all simple practices we can – and should – do with each other and with our My1’s.
Four verses later, in Acts 2:46, we’re told they met together every day in the temple courts. What fellowship! And they had meals together in their homes, “with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.”
You will definitely “enjoy the favor” of your My1 when you involve them in the “one-anothering” fellowship described in Acts!
Just handle your end of the line
Be anxious for nothing. Philippians 4:6a
Do you know people who are constantly worrying? They do not seem to be happy unless they are worrying about something. Some almost seem to take pride in their capacity for worry. It’s understandable, in these days of uncertainty and insecurity, why people become so burdened with anxious cares. But God’s word says, “Be anxious for nothing.” Not even one thing.
Worry exhausts the mind, depresses the spirit, and wearies the body. And in the end, it leaves the cares exactly as they were. (“Which of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” Matthew 6:27). Furthermore, worry implies that God cannot handle our burdens.
The secret of a life free from worry in all things is to commit them to God. Have you heard the story about the telegraph operator who, when he sent a message into a rather remote area, was questioned by someone in the office? “According to the news there is a heavy snowstorm up there – the roads are all blocked. Probably the message will not get through.” The operator replied, “I’m only responsible for this end. There’s some at the other end who knows his business without my trying to carry his worries for him.”
How many worries do we have because we try to carry both ends of the line – our own and God’s?
Providing Light to the world
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16
How much we appreciate light. Even in Arizona, we never seem to tire of month after month of bright, sunny days. And when we go out on our quiet, peaceful nights, we love to see the light of the moon and stars shining brightly.
Do you remember seeing in a movie, or reading about, lamplighters who went up and down the streets at dark, lighting street lamps? Carrying a light on a long pole to light the gas lamps, they themselves could not be seen. But people could look up and down the street and see, in the burning lights, where they had been. It’s a perfect example of doing a good work without letting the worker be seen. In the case of the lamplighter, the people focused on the light of the gas lamps. In our case, we want people to focus on the Person who enables us to do the good deeds.
As we are carrying God’s light to our My Ones (and everyone else), our deeds certainly will be evident. But our good works must bring glory to God, not us.
Praise God for the privilege of being His lamplighters. Ask for His grace to keep us in the background so we can glorify Him.
Here I am!
Here am I; send me! Isaiah 6:8
Isaiah had a vision of the Lord seated in His throne room, high and exalted and with the train of His robe filling the temple. He saw angels flying around and calling to one another in thunderous worship. Scripture doesn’t say how much time Isaiah spent watching in awe, but it was long enough to feel the temple shake as if in an earthquake. And long enough to be aware of his sinful self in the light of God’s glory showing on God and down on Isaiah as well.
“Woe is me!” he cried. “I am ruined!” But in God’s eyes, Isaiah was not unworthy. He cleansed Isaiah, then called him and commissioned him for service. Time in God’s presence makes us ready to become His messenger. When called, Isaiah didn’t mention to God anything about his ability or lack of it, whether he had training, what connections he had, how much money he had, or who his family was. All he said was, “Here am I; send me!”
Isaiah certainly didn’t know God’s complete purpose for him at first, but answered God’s call by faith. We don’t know all that God has in store for us as we minister to our My1’s. But we have accepted the call and will likely be called upon for more service. God is still saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for me?” May we always answer, “Here am I! Send me!”