Even now, in fact, my witness is in heaven,
and he that vouches for me is on high.
When we think of the word “witness”, the first thought that comes to mind is someone who “testifies” in court. Upon reflection – and in the context of our spiritual journey – we might expand that to include our “witness” as Christians to the world at large. But what is the purpose of that “witness”?
Our Scripture reference for today is Job 16:19, “Even now, in fact, my witness is in heaven, and he that vouches for me is on high.” Who is this witness in heaven upon whom Job intends to rely? Some argue that it is the same as the “redeemer” in Job 19:25 – that is, God. So is Job claiming that God is going to testify on Job’s behalf in God’s court? Strange as that may at first seem, it is consistent with the “Good News” we’ve received.
According to John’s Gospel, the Baptist testified to the Light so that all might believe through him (John 1:7) thereby become children of God (John 1:12). Just as that saving grace is the purpose of God’s witness, and of John the Baptist’s witness, and of the witness of those first disciples in the early church, it is the purpose of our witness.
We “testify” (the words “testify” and “witness” have the same root) in order to reflect God’s grace in a world in need of salvation. God became our advocate in order that we might advocate for others in His name, through our daily witness. That is some responsibility!
PRAYER: God, our Redeemer, our heavenly witness that atones for our guilt, enable us to be faithful witnesses to your saving grace that all the world might know you and the gift of eternal life through you. Guide our spirit and mold our conscience by the light of your Word that we may behave “in the world with frankness and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God”. We ask these things in your holy name, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: God created us in His image to witness to a world in need of redemption.
Written by Tom Wicker
Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.
– Colossians 3:2 (NASB)
Witnessing to others is one of the most important jobs we have as Christians. The Lord ask us to witness each and every day to our family, friends, co-workers and others. If we expect to witness to our greatest ability we must have the proper mindset.
My grandfather, Dr. James M. Moye was a B-24 pilot in WWII. He was shot down over Vienna Austria and spent almost 6 months in a POW camp. He endured some of the most grueling treatment those 6 months in camp. During these grueling times he never lost his faith in the Lord. He told us that the only way he was able to keep his positive mindset was to have an eternal perspective. My grandfather always quoted a portion of Psalms 23:7, “What a man thinks in his heart, so is he”. He always preached that to us and he practiced this in every facet of his life. He was always so positive and optimistic and this allowed him to be such an inspiration and a witness to me. Living in these present times, it is very easy to fall into the negativity that we are seeing all around us.
If we are to witness to others in the way that God wants us to, how can we do this with an earthly mindset.? If we want to reach others with a true passion for God’s love than we must set our sights on our true home in Heaven. How much better can we be as individuals if we all had this eternal mindset. Starting today, we need to change our mindset from that of this world to our true home in heaven with our Lord. By doing this, we will transform the way we live each day and can truly become the positive influence we need to be to witness to others as Christ would want.
PRAYER: Lord, please help us to live each day with an eternal mindset. Help us to seek opportunities to witness to others each day of our lives. Please guide us in these situations so that we may shine a positive light for others in all that we do.
Thought for the Day: Live each day with an eternal mindset to better prepare us for witnessing to others as God would want.
Written by Kirk W. Thoms
“…for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” – Act 4:20
According to Merriam Webster, the word “witness” has many definitions. Perhaps the most universal definition is simply “one that gives evidence.” We often think of this evidence in the legal sense. A person takes the witness stand and gives evidence that something did or did not happen. In the spiritual realm, we are asked to give evidence of the truth of Christ.
The disciples were literal witnesses to Him. They were tasked with giving evidence that this man existed, was fully human and fully divine, and was resurrected from the dead. Paul was another literal witness of Christ. He met him quite suddenly on the road to Damascus and was charged with telling the world about it.
We of this age are called to be witnesses too. While each of us has had a different journey in the faith, I would venture to say that many of us have not necessarily been “blinded on the road.” Without such an experience, what are we to be witnesses of and how are we to testify? Without an amazing personal story, some of us may not be comfortable in the witness stand of the world.
For me, the answer is that we must testify in how we treat other people. Our witness to the world must be in our attempts to emulate Christ. We must try, however feebly, to see as Christ saw and to do as He did. By that I do not mean that we can live perfectly, without sin or bad decisions. Certainly, we should strive for that. But rather, we should look as He did with compassion on those who struggle, who make mistakes, who fail time and time again. In so doing, we should, as He instructed us, remember our own struggles, failures, and mistakes. We must try to love those who persecute us. We must try to offer the other cheek to the one who slaps us. We must try to refrain from judging others. Above all, we must forgive. We must quickly forgive our children when they do wrong so that they learn to forgive. Our family members, our friends, and even our enemies are to be forgiven.
He told us to do these things and He did these things. We know He did because the witnesses around Him told us so. Now that the world largely knows His story, we can be powerful witnesses to the story without saying a word by showing the world that we, as Christians, are about compassion, love and forgiveness; not condemnation, judgment, and self-righteousness.
PRAYER: Father, help us to examine ourselves before we examine those around us. In so doing, let us be faithful witnesses of your Son. Amen.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: How are we to testify in today’s world?
Written by Joe Babb
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
– Matthew 28:18-20
As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth. “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word,
– John 17: 18-20
Sometimes when listening to the words used in our Baptismal liturgy, particularly in our covenant of Baptism with infants, I’ll really pay particular attention to the congregation’s response:
With God’s help we will proclaim the good news and live according to the examples of Christ.
We will surround these persons with a community of love and forgiveness, that they may grow in their trust of God and be found faithful in their service to others.
We will pray for them that they may be true disciples who walk in the way that leads to life.
What a great responsibility that puts on us! We promise to be good and true witnesses of Christ to those sweet little babies so that they grow in their love and trust of God and can in turn be witnesses to others.
In the Great Commission, Jesus instructs his disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations.” We hear the words so clearly in our Baptism liturgy! As a congregation, we promise to witness to that infant; as Christians, we are commissioned to go into the world and do the same.
“Into the world” can have a broad meaning such as the international mission field; however, there are mission fields in our own communities, in our work places or in our own families. A witness would use words as well as actions, but I love what Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say!” We can be witnesses for Christ to the world by a kind word, a thoughtful gesture, or a giving of our time and talents to those in need.
PRAYER: Lord, show us how to be Christ to others through our words and our actions that they may know and love you. We pray for your indwelling Spirit to be in our hearts making us compassionate and bold witnesses. We ask this not to glorify ourselves, but to glorify You and Your kingdom.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: We can witness to others and reveal God’s love through our words and actions.
Written by Betsy White
"The righteous will bear fruit even when old and gray; they will remain fresh in order to proclaim; "'The Lord is righteous. HE's my rock' "
I have been a Methodist all of my life. When a new member joins the church they are asked, "Will you be loyal to the Methodist church with your prayers, presence, gifts and service?" I had this memorized and didn't even have to look it up in the hymnal (was a little proud of myself-just kidding).
One Sunday I joined other congregants when a new member joined and, lo and behold, a new word had been inserted into the vow that I was not accustomed to. The powers that be, or perhaps the bishops that be, had added WITNESS. Didn't know exactly how I felt about this addition, but I guess I have gotten used to it!
When I think of witness, the first thing that comes to mind is someone going from person-to-person on a beach (insert any other awkward location). This is something I haven't been called to do or comfortable doing. As I have gotten a little older and, hopefully, gained Christian maturity, I have come to realize that witness is typically something one observes of another (a noun rather than a verb in grammatical terms). Perhaps striving to be a good disciple is the best example of witness. How do we do that? Living in response to grace is how it has been described. Wesley's motives for his many pursuits of 'doing good' changed from an effort to earn God's love and forgiveness to living in response to God's grace. Now I don't think of myself as aged just yet(ha), but the scripture above applies to us all.
I read a devotional in Upper Room about a lady named Ava who lived in an assisted-living facility. Ava noticed that small packets of crackers beside each plate in the dining room often went uneaten. When she began to collect the packets, her friends noticed and began saving them for her. After she filled a bag, she would call a church member to take it to the community food pantry.
One day a resident asked Ava with exasperation, "Why do you care? This surely doesn't make a difference". Ava just smiled and kept on collecting crackers and passing them on. Hers was a practical, hands-on faith. Ava may be gone now, but she remains an example of faithful living. The lesson I learn frfom this sweet story is to look at what's right in front of me(literally) and find a way to help someone in need.
PRAYER: Thank you that by grace we are in union with you through faith in our Savior Jesus Christ. Help us today to recognize those in need around us. Amen.
Thought for the Day:Help someone in need
Written by Emily Hill
In a world where noise is coming from every direction, are we as Christians sharing our message?
“You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand-shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”
Matthew 5:14-16 The Message
News is spread faster than ever before. The television news has up to date information every hour. There are a whole host of social medias out there. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to name a few. And although communication has evolved drastically throughout history, God’s amazing love has not changed. “God is not a secret to be kept.” Someone was faithful to each of us to witness and teach us. We can’t be afraid to do the same and share the truth in love. Let’s all challenge ourselves to open up to others and let His love flow through us freely to everyone we meet. “We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill.” We have a story to tell of the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Let us witness by being light and love in the world.
Written by Susannah Pace
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
– Colossians 3:17
When I began to think about what being a witness for Christ looks like, I thought about a brief conversation that I had recently with a very kind man. You may know him. He is an older gentleman who greets people as they come in to shop at Sam’s Club. As I walked into the store on a hot summer day, he greeted me with a pleasant smile and some welcoming words, “Good Morning! How are you today?” After I responded to him with, “Great…. How are you?” we began an enlightening conversation.
He asked me if I had any idea why an 80 plus year old man would work 40 hours a week, standing on his feet all day (except for breaks) just to greet people. He then proceeded to explain why….. He said that he had been so blessed in his life, and he want to be a blessing to others for the time he had left on this earth. He said that if he can show Christ’s love to every person that walks through the door by greeting them with kind words and conversation, or a friendly smile, then he will have had a very successful day! He said, “The Lord gives me the strength to stand all day because I couldn’t do it on my own.” He went on to say, “You never know what others may be going through in their lives, so if I can brighten their day in some small way and show them a glimpse of Christ’s love, then I’ve done my job. I don’t do this for the money. I don’t need any of that, I just want to make the most of each and every day as I try to be a good witness for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
Since that day, I’ve thought about him a lot and his approach to being a Christian witness to those around us. We don’t have to preach the word, but through our actions and kind words, we can let others witness the love of Christ, and let our light shine for all to see!
He was a wonderful, simple witness for Christ that day and every day! We can all think of simple ways to be a good witness. The kind man and the conversation has stayed with me, and now I am trying to do the same in the simplest ways. Will you?
PRAYER: Loving God, let us be a daily witness for you. Help us to show your love to those we come in contact with whether it’s at work, school, church or in our homes. Let your light always shine through us so others can witness Your abundant love.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: What can I do today to be a good witness and show Christ’s love to others?
Written by Lori Clayton
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. – 1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)
Much of my career has involved extensive travel, and while I have been afforded incredible opportunities to see other places and meet some extraordinary people, Some of it I have to admit has been “work” to catch planes, manage schedules, and be away from those I love. However, God has this spectacular way of reminding me during these travels that his grace extends to all places. Recently, I had rented a car in Detroit and was leaving the gate of the lot when the attendant looked at me after reviewing my paperwork and said “God is good” to which I said “all the time”! At that moment, I needed to be reminded that God is Good and he did it through someone I may never see again but will never forget. Our work, our stewardship, is not always done just in a sensational place or time, but with very special resources that he has given to each of us.
You are on assignment from God. This is why Paul says, “Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him” (1 Corinthians 7:17). “You are not your own” (1 Corinthians 6:19). You are “a bondservant of Christ” (1 Corinthians 7:22) and a steward of the gifts you have received. Others need your gifts. That’s why you have them.
PRAYER: God, empower with your spirit us to use the gifts that you have given each one of us to bring joy to others, to express your love which the world desperately longs to see, so that we may “live the assignment that we have been given”.
written by Ken Waldrip
All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’
– Matthew 25: 32-40
(This story is a composite of the circumstances facing 140+ children in grades K-6 that FUMC serves through a ministry called week-end backpack sacks of food.)
Joe is a third grader in the Tupelo School District. He has a young sister, Mary in kindergarten. Joe and Mary get a weekend food sack to help them make it through the two days they are not eating “school” food. Joe and Mary are being raised by their disabled grandfather who has limited resources. Joe has thanked his teacher for the food and told her that it really helps make the weekend better. The children do not know who provides the food, but knows someone cares and remembers them. Jesus reminds us that when we feed the less fortunate, we are in fact feeding him. The volunteers who order, pack and deliver the food to the schools are the “boots” on the ground regarding this ministry, but everyone can help by donating funds to keep the sacks filled and stomachs full.
PRAYER: Dear God, Help us remember the forgotten ones. Help us to feed the young souls in our town not only with food, but with kindness so they will grow into healthy, productive citizens who have a love for you and others in the community. Help them to find it in their hearts to show respect for everyone, regardless of their differences. Help us to do the same. Amen.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Making one small gesture of kindness can yield a return too large to measure in human terms.
written by Cathy Grace
Whoever brings blessing will be enriched and one who
waters will he himself be watered.
– Proverbs 11:25
In 2013, my parents died 4 months apart. I read that losing one parent is like a comma, and losing your second parent is like a period. My comma and period were too close together and the resulting grief was unmooring, numbing and overwhelming.
Within weeks, our FUMC youth began planning a mission trip to Honduras. In the midst of the chaos of grief, my daughter Natalie, then 15, and I committed to the Honduras trip.
The spirit of the Honduran people instantly took hold of my heart. I do not possess the vocabulary to express the depth of connection and pull. I have been fortunate enough to make return trips to Honduras. My earnest prayer is that our presence and efforts uplift them.
“Mission” evokes the notion of service to others. Synonyms for mission are quest, goal, purpose, aim. My formative mission experience was of a quest and goal beyond myself. From numb to touched, unmoored to connected, and overwhelmed to fulfilled. Through the grace and hand of an awesome God, I have been enriched and watered through my service opportunities.
PRAYER: May I be open to service, to be the enricher & the enriched, the waterer & the watered.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: When we serve others, whether a stranger, neighbor, friend or in a foreign country, we are living abundantly.
Written by Janna Sowers
Let us do life together, growing closer to Jesus, and closer to each other, through stories and experiences from the people of our church. Join us as we begin a new series for the Advent season, beginning Tuesday, November 28.