Evangelism: Every Believer’s Calling

We each have our own amazing testimony. Let’s share them with one another. You never know how much your testimony could bless someone else or draw an unbeliever that much closer to believing.

1 The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,

Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen:

To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:

And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.

For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?

And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.

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 1:1–8 KJV

JANUARY 28, 2021 THURSDAY

One Sunday a man approached me between services to share his story. He had been addicted to drugs and was leading a hopeless life when he heard a Scripture verse in a sermon. He said that one passage led him to place his trust in Jesus Christ.

We all have a story. Oftentimes the more we surrender to God, the more we see His hand in our life. And the more we watch Him work, the more we want to share with others what He has done.

The same was true of the disciples, who gathered around Jesus before His ascension. They heard His command to spread the gospel, make disciples, and baptize people from all nations. Surely this seemed like an overwhelming task for a handful of followers, but they obeyed. Their personal experiences with Christ undoubtedly motivated them to share the good news, and they also must have gained confidence from Jesus’ promise of His presence and power.

Are you passionately telling others about Christ? One of our highest callings is to tell others about Him. As was true for the early Christians, our own experience with the Savior is the most exciting and convincing story to tell.

Daily Devotions

What’s your testimony? You can read a bit of mine in Overcoming Struggles and Doubts About Your Salvation After a Loved One Passes.

Vision Without Boundaries

As followers of Christ, we all have a job to do. We’re to share the good news of Jesus and what He’s done for us with the world. I admit it. Sometimes I fall lax in this area. It can be too easy to get caught up with the world and daily life. Let’s endeavor to be beacons of light for God and let Him use us to accomplish His will. What greater purpose in life is there than that?

JANUARY 27, 2021 WEDNESDAY

Before ascending to heaven, Jesus told His followers to tell all nations about Him. However, many of us aren’t working to fulfill this Great Commission—at least not fervently and purposefully. What might be holding us back? 

Sometimes self-preserving barriers, such as fear, are the reason. For instance, if evangelizing means traveling overseas, we might be concerned about safety or how family and friends will react to our decision. We also might worry about how people will respond to our message.

Another hindrance might be conditional obedience—in other words, when we respond to God’s call but with our own modifications. Instead of being willing to serve where God wants for as long as He wants, we might think, That’s too much money or That’s too much time. We end up settling for something less than what God intended and fail to fully carry out our role in the Great Commission. 

There are many obstacles that can keep us from telling people the good news of the gospel. But when we’re willing to tear those barriers down, we’ll be amazed at what God can accomplish through us. Are you passionately sharing the gospel? If not, ask God to show you what stands in your way. Then pray for forgiveness, and refocus on your part in the mission Jesus gave us all.

Daily Devotions

Christian Self-Help: Turning Your Trials to Triumph

I’ve long been a fan of Christian fiction books, but recently I’ve gotten into Christian non-fiction books too. I’m fortunate enough to be connected to many fellow Christian authors, one of whom is Karen L. Roberts. Karen is the author of Jack’s Story: A Love Story of God and You. (I read Jack’s Story a few years ago and loved it!) I had no idea, however, that Karen had written another book. As humble as she is, she’s not one of those who overly self-promotes.

Anyway, when I found out about her other book, I knew I had to read it too.

Turning Your Trails to Triumph: 65 Bible Lessons to Overcome Problems & Impossible Situations is what I like to dub a Christian self-help book. You see self-help books on the market all the time. Titles that teach you how to improve your self image or how to make more money sell like hotcakes. I’ve come to love Christian self-help books that teach you new ways to approach your relationship with God and how to deal with different situations from a Christian standpoint.

Easy-to-Read Layout

Karen’s book did not disappoint me! First of all, I love the format of her book. It’s broken down into short sections of lessons. Each lesson poses a question or idea, and then numbered points follow. For instance, there are sections like “How to Get Through Life’s Valleys” and “Lessons from the Story of Hannah.”

Educational Value

I cannot even begin to tell you how much Karen’s book has taught me. Not only does it provide you with many self-help tips and lessons, but it even teaches you things you probably didn’t know. I’ve read the Bible front to back, and there were Bible events Karen mentioned that I’d never really delved into that deeply before. They gave me a whole new perspective on them and made them that much more interesting and personal to me.

Personal Writing Style

Speaking of personal…Karen’s writing style is very down to earth. I love how she interweaves her lessons with real-life examples. One of the common complaints about the Bible and many religious texts is that they’re hard to understand. Karen presents everything in a comprehensive manner and a format that’s easily digestible. This books feels like you’re having a conversation with her, which I loved.

Perfect for Daily Devotionals

I don’t know about many of you, but I find it helps me a lot to read some devotions every day. Because I stay so busy, I like to choose short snippets that give me my Bible food for thought, and I meditate on that throughout the day as I work and so on. In addition to reading a few Bible passages and Dr. Charles Stanley’s daily devotionals, I incorporated Karen’s book into my daily devotional reading. It’s set up just too perfectly not to! Each one of Karen’s lessons makes for a great devotional to go along with your daily reading. They’re short and sweet and to the point, which I love. They impart so much valuable information without droning on and on.

Of course, if you’d prefer to read the entire book like a fiction book or other book, you are certainly free to do so. This is just how I prefer to read self-help books.

A Must-Read

Whether you’re a Christian or not, this book is a must-read. For Christians, this book causes you to think of lessons to be learned from Bible events in ways you never had before. For non-Christians, this book can still offer you valuable advice on how to respond to different situations. I highly recommend this book to anyone!

About the Author

Karen L. Roberts is one of the sweetest and kindest authors you’ll ever meet. A beacon of light, she has this gentle aura that shines through even in her online presence. If you’d like to connect with Karen, you can do so via her Facebook author profile or her author blog.

Redeeming Love: Unconditional Love Exemplified

I stayed up late last night finishing this book. Gosh, I just love it so much. I’ve read this book several times before. I discovered it back when I was in high school. I’ll never forget. I was at the local Books-A-Million browsing through the Christian Romance section when another girl approached me. She looked a bit older, like maybe she was a college student. She introduced herself kindly, struck up a conversation with me about our favorite Christian authors, and then she recommended this book. I’d never read one of Rivers’ books before, but the way my fellow peer gushed over it make me want to read it. I thanked her and purchased the book.
 
When I began reading it, I was riveted. This is one of those books that changes lives. I loved it back then, but after reading it fresh more than a decade later, it hit me anew. I can identify with Angel so much more now, and I found tears moistening my eyes in many parts. This is a such a raw, heart-wrenching book that truly exemplifies the way that God loves us unconditionally.
 
Rivers did an amazing job illustrating how only God can truly heal the soul. So many women (and men) look to their partner to be their everything, just as Angel did. Michael showed her God’s unconditional love, and she got lost in him, but only the Lord could truly heal her. I love how Rivers brought this issue to light. It’s so easy to look to a man (or woman) to heal our hurting souls, but a fellow human can only do so much. God wants us to look to him first. Once we do that, all else will fall into place.
 
I highly recommend this book to anyone – especially to those with broken souls. It will change your life.

Scheduling God In

In today’s busy world, it can be difficult to manage our time. There are only so many hours in a day, and it’s oftentimes hard to find time to do all the things that we want to do while still seeing to our responsibilities. That’s when prioritization comes in.

Priorities Affect Scheduling

Because we have limited time, we must pick and choose what takes precedence. Those of us who have to work usually prioritize that first. We must get up every morning and go to work. Those who have certain medications to take make it a priority to schedule time for taking them. Parents who have to see their children off to school make sure they schedule time for that. The list of responsibilities goes on.

Time Management Requires Sacrifice

I am not always the best person at managing my time. There are so many books I want to read that I haven’t gotten around to yet. I have unopened DVDs with the plastic still on them waiting to be watched. I have videos that friends have sent me that I still haven’t found time to watch. I have so many unwritten story ideas sitting in the Notes app on my iPhone. I have craft supplies that I bought and haven’t gotten a chance to use yet. However, there is a reason for that. I haven’t scheduled time for those activities yet because there are other ones that take precedence over them. I usually have some days where I  have some down time, and then I’ll pick some of these extracurricular activities to engage in on those days.

Yesterday’s InTouch devotion really struck home with me on making time for God.

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God has allotted us 24 hours in a day. It is up to us to prioritize time to spend with Him each day because each day is a gift from Him. He understands our physical limitations in that we need sleep, food, shelter and so on because He made us. If it wasn’t possible for us to do everything that we need to do and still  have time for Him in 24 hours, then I believe He would have given us more time.

Scheduling Time for God is a Responsibility

I’ve always been bad about not reading the Bible every day, and the reason why was because I wasn’t making it a priority and scheduling time for it. I was placing it at the end like it was an extracurricular activity, an elective, when really I should have been treating it like what it should be: a responsibility.

When you come to think of reading the Bible and praying as responsibilities, it will help you schedule time for them. There are certain activities that you make sure you do every day. Add these to those, and then you’ll begin to grow closer to God and stay closer to Him.

The way that I scheduled Bible reading in is by adding it to my morning wakeup routine. I always have to have cup of coffee in the morning. I usually check emails and scroll through Facebook a bit while sipping my coffee. I also write my Poem of the Day (usually every morning…I’ve missed a few lately). I made a conscious decision to add Bible reading/devotional reading and morning prayers to my routine, and I cannot tell you how much it has helped me. I cut back on the amount of time spent scrolling through Facebook, and I do my reading and prayers before I do my poem writing or anything else. It helps me start my day out right and apply what I’ve read to that day.

However, everyone’s schedule is different. You might not be able or willing to schedule extra time in the morning for Bible reading. Maybe your time would be better at night right before you go to bed, during a break at work or even when you get home from work. It doesn’t matter when you do it, so long as you do it.

Multitasking is great skill for when you don’t have any empty time slots. Read while you’re eating lunch, while you’re taking a bath, while you’re walking or whenever. Even reading just a couple of scriptures and meditating on them throughout the day can make a huge difference in your outlook on life.

Pencil God into your day. It’s a responsibility that we should prioritize as much as (actually even more so) than work.

Do you have a dedicated Bible reading time? Please feel free to share how you schedule God into your day in the comments section below.

 

Thankful Thursday: I’m Thankful for My Best Friend

Today I’d like to express my thanks for my best friend. Those of you who know me probably expect me to list my best friend as my childhood bestie or my mother. Indeed, I had a childhood best friend, and as I got older, my mother came to be my best friend. I also have a couple of very good friends who live far away from me who I consider besties now.

Yet there is another best friend I came to have, and He takes precedence over all the others (even my mother). On December 3rd, 2014, I met my truest best friend: Jesus.

While other best friends can fail you and come short, Jesus never will. He is the best friend I never have to worry about not being there for me.

Try as they might, sometimes our most well-intentioned friends simply cannot be there for us. Then there are those friends who are only our besties when times are good and who tend to take a step back when the going gets rough, or they’re only our besties as much as it benefits them.

Jesus is not like that. He is there with us through the thick and the thin, the good and the bad. He’s ALWAYS there. He’s not a fickle, fair-weather friend who will leave you in times of trouble when you need him most. In fact, I know that during the roughest times of my life when all others had seemed to forsake me, He was there even though I didn’t know it. It is only because He was such a good friend and never gave up on me that I am here today. And when I finally acknowledged His presence and met Him, He greeted me with open arms.

You don’t have to wait for Him to arrive because he’s always by your side. You are never truly alone. He’s always there to talk to. That’s kind of amazing to think about, and I just want to thank Him for everything that He has done to protect me. I am thankful that He watches over me and that He is always there whenever I need someone to talk to.

Who is your best friend? I hope it is Jesus. Unlike earthly friends who can only handle one or two best friends, Jesus can be a best friend to all. Of course, I think we can still have our earthly besties, but Jesus should be our number one.

What are your thoughts?

Thankful Thursday: I’m Thankful for My Pets

Some people might find being thankful for your pets silly, but I truly am thankful for mine. I believe we can thank God for anything (and should thank him for everything), and my pets bring such comfort and happiness to my life.

Any of you who follow my Instagram or are connected to me via Facebook or Twitter probably get annoyed at how many pics I post of my pets. Lol. #sorrynotsorry Yet I believe that sometimes God sends us pets when we most need them.

While I’ve purposefully went out and gotten a pet before, I’ve had many pets that I did not go in search of. Instead, they simply wandered up to the house and became a part of my life. I happened upon some of my dearest pets this way, and I truly believe that God placed them in my life. Even with the pets I set out to adopt, I think it was God who placed the thought in my head.

Our pets become like our family members, and they are wonderful companions. Oftentimes when no one else can cheer me up, a nuzzle from Mixie, Trixie, Tom or Jerry can.

So this Thursday, I tell God, “Thank you for sending your animals to me and allowing me to care for them. Please help me do so to the best of my ability, according to your will.”

Do you have any pets you are thankful for? If so, feel free to discuss them below or post pictures.

Thankful Thursday: I’m Thankful for My Family

It’s been a week of new beginnings here on my blog. I migrated all my blogs into this one and separated them by category, and I implemented a new feature yesterday called Writing Wednesday. Today I’m adding yet another feature that I’ll call Thankful Thursday.

Basically every Thursday, I’ll write about something that I’m thankful to God for. Not only will it be a good writing exercise for me, but (most importantly) it’ll help me to remember all that I have to thank God for.

Today I’m going to start with the quintessential, “I’m thankful for my family.”

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My parents, sibling, sister-in-law, niece, nephew, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins are all wonderful and supportive. I couldn’t ask for a better family, and I know I’m very blessed to have them. There was once a time when I took them for granted, and I missed out on so much when I lived states away from them, but like the father of the prodigal son, they welcomed me back with open arms when I returned home.

I know that not everyone is blessed to have such a family as mine, and I thank God for allowing me to be a part of such a loving family that practices love and forgiveness.

What about you? What are you thankful for this Thursday? Please feel free to leave your answers in the comments below.

What’s Your Spiritual Gift?

As some of you know, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to read Charles Stanley’s daily devotions every day. Part of why I love them is because they’re short and get to the point of teaching a great lesson. If you’re someone who has a busy schedule, these are really easy to fit into your routine. Plus, they’re free. You can read them online via InTouch Ministries Daily Devotions, or you can subscribe to get them delivered directly to your email or home. I personally like to have a physical copy of the booklets, so I get them sent to my home, but you can do whichever you prefer.

Anyhoo, on to the point of today’s blog. Spiritual gifts. Today’s devotion was about how spiritual gifts work together. We all have spiritual gifts – whether we realize it or not, and your spiritual gift might not be the same as someone else’s. Also, your spiritual gift could simply be something you’re good at, even if you don’t use it spiritually yet.

For instance, my gift is writing. It’s always come easy to me. Of course, there are plenty of other writers out there, and all writers don’t use their gifts for spiritual purposes, but that, I believe, was why our gifts were ultimately granted us – to serve our Creator with.

Maybe your gift is singing, speaking or painting. Then again, maybe your gift isn’t something quite as noticeable as something you can base a profession on. Many of us have spiritual gifts that aren’t as outwardly noticeable, yet they are just as important as some the gifts that are more outwardly prominent.

For instance, if you’ll read the snippet from Stanley’s devotion below, you’ll see how he mentions mercy as a spiritual gift. Maybe you have the spiritual gift to feel great mercy and compassion. Maybe you have a gift of prophecy in that you have dreams that often tend to come true. Maybe you have the gift of teaching in that it’s easy for you to explain things and teach them to others. Maybe you’re a leader who’s good at rallying people to your cause.

Oftentimes, we have several gifts. For instance, you might have the gifts of teaching and mercy. You might also have the gift of service in that you willingly serve and take care of others.

Regardless of what your gifts are, you can use them for the glory of God. How do you use your spiritual gifts? Just use them to honor God. Follow God’s teachings, and ask Him to use you for His purposes. I’ve found that if you apply the following verse to every situation, it can help you make the right move:

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When I started reading my Bible with dedication, I started wanting to do things for God, so I asked Him to let me know what to do, and then suddenly I got the idea to create the Christian Living section of my blog. It doesn’t always seem like much to me, and I don’t always post on it every day. Rather, I wait for God to put thoughts and ideas in my head, and then I wait until He tells me to post them.

You might ask: How does He put thoughts in your head, and how does He tell you when to post? It is difficult to explain. I will just suddenly have a thought or idea out of the blue, and it usually comes at a time when I’m not even thinking about writing. I might be doing the laundry, and there it is, unbidden. Then, I’ll just have this certainty inside – this feeling that lets me know it’s from Him. The same thing about when I’m supposed to post it. Sometimes I’m meant to write it up right away and post it. Sometimes He allows obstacles to get in my way to prevent me from posting it until He is ready. It is truly an amazing experience, and I take such joy in doing it. There is no greater pleasure than knowing that you’ve done what God told you to do. (But keep in mind that just because God communicates to me this way doesn’t mean that’s how he will communicate to you. Just as we all have different spiritual gifts, so do we have different ways of hearing God. Some people claim that they’ve actually heard the voice of God on occasion. Sometimes He’ll send you a message through another person.)

When you realize your gifts and talents and allow God to guide you in using them for the good of His kingdom, then you’ll start to see amazing things happen in your life. You’ll see prayers answered and demonstrations of God’s power and mercy, and you’ll be a happier individual overall.

So what are your spiritual gifts? As always, feel free to share below in comments.

 

When Do You Talk to God?

As Christians, we should yearn to know God better. We can learn more about God and His ways by reading the Bible, but just like you need to foster any other type of relationship with communication, so must you foster a relationship with God through communication. You can’t get to know someone better if you don’t ever talk to him or her, and the same goes for God.

How to Talk to God

But how do you talk to God if you can’t visually see Him or audibly hear Him? Through prayer. Prayer is simply talking to God. Prayers don’t have to be long and elaborate either. They don’t have to be spoken out loud. Sometimes a prayer can be as simple as saying, Good morning, Lord. Thank you for this beautiful day. 

Granted, most of us usually like to say a more formal prayer every day too during which we thank him for all His mercy, ask Him to guide us throughout the day and cast our cares upon Him in general. Once you come to think of God as a friend and father, though, you’ll find it easier to talk to Him throughout the day. He might not always answer you visibly or audibly, and you might not see answers right away, but He does hear you, and He will answer you when the time is right according to his time.

When and Where Do You Talk to God?

While you can talk to God at any time, and you don’t have to talk to Him at the same time every day, there might be certain times that you find yourself talking to Him more than others. In today’s hectic world, it can be difficult to find the time to take your thoughts off all you have to do and center them on God, but it’s important to do that every day.

For instance, I like to talk to God first thing in the morning while I’m having my coffee and waking up. When the weather’s nice, I might do this sitting out on the front porch or in the backyard on the pool deck. Other days, I’ll sit in the library or in my chair in the living room. During this time, I just sit and meditate on God and tell Him everything that’s worrying me, ask him for help, mention any people I want to pray for and so on. Sometimes I just sit there and thank Him for all the many ways He’s blessed me.

Call me a child, but I also like to say a nighttime prayer. That habit was instilled in me since I was a little girl, and while I did it robotically for many years and then stopped doing it altogether, now I do it with understanding. During that time, I ask God to forgive me for any sins I committed that day and talk to Him about things that happened or anything else that I need to talk about.

Then, there are those times throughout the day – maybe when I’m taking a break from work – that I find myself talking to God. Throughout this summer, my habit has been to talk to God when I go swimming. If no one else is in the pool with me, I like to lay on my floatie and look up at the sky while I pray. Talking to God while gazing into the heavens makes me feel closer to Him and more in awe of his magnificence. I mean, He created all that – that beautiful sky with its cottony clouds, and when I’m talking to Him, sometimes a ray of sunlight will randomly come shining through as if in response to something that I’ve said, and it gives me such a warm, happy feeling inside, and I know deep inside me in those moments that He heard my prayer. It’s a feeling a totally can’t explain no matter how hard I try.

Sometimes when I’m doing a bit of cleaning around the house (folding clothes or whatnot), I’ll find myself asking Him questions or simply asking Him to speak to me. That doesn’t mean that I’ll hear His voice audibly, but sometimes when I do that and am receptive to hearing him, I’ll have these little thoughts or revelations that give me the answer to something I was questioning, and the questions might have been posed months or years ago – just suddenly I’ll have a solution.

Other times I’ll ask God what He wants me to do. You won’t know what works God wants you to do until you ask Him, and again, I might not always get an answer right away. It might be a week or two later when He puts a thought in my head about something that I need to write or someone I need to talk to or just anything I need to do. Sometimes He even sends other people to bring us His answers. It’s amazing all the different ways that God works to communicate with us when we talk to Him.

You might not talk to God the same way I do, at the same times or in the same places. Maybe you prefer to talk to God as you’re driving down the road on your way to work. Maybe you talk to God by speaking your prayers out loud. It is different for many of us.

God Wants to Talk to You

God Wants To Talk To You

The point of this is no matter how or where you talk to God, it’s important that you do it if you want to grow closer to Him. God wants to talk to us. A friend and former classmate of mine really brought that home to me in a video blog she did on her Facebook page, My Life Song: praying and waiting. Near the end of the video, she equates the disappointment of parents when we don’t spend time with them to how God must feel when we don’t spend time with Him.

Watch the video I’m talking about here:

It made total sense to me. Just like a parent might feel hurt if you don’t return home for a family gathering, so must God feel hurt when we neglect to seek Him out and have our conversations with Him. Plus, just think. As much as our parents love us, God loves us so much more because he made us and sent His son to die for us. He should always be our first priority above anything else.

So when do you talk to God? Feel free to share your routine and experiences by commenting below, and may you have a very blessed day!

Also, if you like the video above and want to see more of them and lots of inspirational quotes, thoughts and more, follow April’s Facebook page at My Life Song: praying and waiting.