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Posts Tagged ‘witness’

Enlarging Your Steps

June 6th, 2017

Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip. (Psalm 18:36 KJV)

Here is a promise for us that was an experience for David. Twice in the Holy Book he described his experience in these terms: God enlarging his steps. In his psalm recorded in 2 Samuel 22:37, and in Psalm 18 above.

The modern translations tend to say that this means, “You have broadened my path,” always trying to find the dynamic equivalent. Yet the original is clearly steps, and not path. God does straighten our paths (Prov. 3:5-6) and broaden them on many occasions. In His grace the rough places become smooth (Isaiah 40:3-4). That is stated in His Word. But David was describing something different here – not that the path became level but that he himself became stronger. His steps were enlarged so that he stepped over the rough spots.

Does not God do this for us? Is not this His plan as much as smoothing the path is? Children cry over the slightest of hurts, but a grown person knows these things are not worth crying over. Immature people fight to get their way, or erupt in fear over the slightest upsetting of their hopes, but mature people trust God in all things and know the difference between a major issue and a minor one.

Sometimes God does this through giving us a bigger problem. A few weeks ago I flew to Asia where we lived for twenty years. My knee was giving me such problems that I considered cancelling my trip – I am scheduled for knee replacement surgery next week. But I decided to go anyway, and while I was there I came down with shingles – a much more serious concern. Suddenly the knee pain seemed as though it was nothing, and God has often done things like this in my life.

The bigger problems seem sometimes to be easier for us to give to Him than the smaller ones, and perhaps that is why God allows us to have them. Cancer we will give to God, knowing we cannot handle it alone. But a sore toe we will nurse ourselves and complain and whine about. But all matters we can place in His hands and learn to stand in His grace and strength.

Our child’s studies may disturb us and cause us to worry if they will apply themselves, until they have a serious sickness. Then, in a matter of seconds, everything is put into a different perspective, and God has enlarged our steps to handle the harder matter. If we can step over a dangerous illness, then we also learn that the minor frustrations of life are really nothing at all to worry about.

Sometimes God does this by giving us a larger vision. We are often worried about how we can reach one person for Christ, when we ought to have entire cities and whole nations on our hearts. We trip over many stumbling stones in service and witness that are practically nothing at all. The Christian must learn to take great steps for God and not become disheartened over one little rejection.

Poet Sam Walter Foss, perhaps unknowingly, spoke of this spiritual enlargement in the hearts of Christians when he wrote:

Bring me men to match my mountains.
Bring me men to match my plains.
Men with empires in their purpose.
And new eras in their brains.

We need people who are not afraid to dream dreams with the Holy Spirit, to let the Spirit enlarge their hearts and enlarge their steps as well.

The vision of one single man from Macedonia got Paul and his companions to go there and begin work, but once he was there he realized a whole continent that needed Christ. Baker James Cauthen, speaking to newly appointed missionaries, spoke of this matter of a vision and the experience in living out the vision.

You have visualized the need, but in your place of service you will discover that the vision was smaller than the need really is. When you tackle the responsib.ility, the size, weight, and extend of it will make you feel your need of God that you may “be strong and of good courage.”

You will find that even though you have prayed about your mission task and carefully planned for it, the results you long for may not come as readily as you desire. You will need to be strong in your readiness to let God’s results come in God’s time – knowing that he will bring his word to fruition if you trust him. You have to be strong in your faith that when you share God’s word it will not come back empty.*

Our steps, if they are enlarged must also have the pace of God behind them, that we do not panic or become discouraged when things do not happen when we wanted them to. Large steps endure difficulty, maintain hope, see the mountains to which they are headed, do not stumble over the little pebbles in the way. They keep pace with the Spirit of God and trust Him in all things. This strength comes from God and we have no reason to boast in it on account of ourselves.

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*Baker James Cauthen, Beyond Call, Broadman Press, 1973, pp. 11-12.

Burnout, Dealing with Difficulties, Encouragement , , ,

The Ascension Appearance, Part 3

May 12th, 2017

… but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” (Acts 1:1-8 NASB)

A witness simply testifies to what he has seen. The word translated “witness” is martus in the Greek, from which we also get the word “martyr”- someone who bears witness by his death. It has a distinct forensic sense, and carries legal weight, as Christ said, “that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses” (Matt. 18:16 ESV).

The word was used for God, “For God is my witness,” wrote Paul (Rom. 1:9), “that without ceasing I always mention you in my prayers.” It was used also for Christ, who called Himself “the faithful and true witness” (Rev. 3:14). It was used for those who could witness to the miracles, teachings, life, death, and resurrection of Christ (Acts 1:22). In a broader sense it was used in Hebrews 12:1 to describe the faithful throughout the generations who could testify to the faithfulness of God.

To be a witness depends on the presence and power of the Spirit in our lives. It is clear that some aspects of being a witness to the miracles, teachings, and resurrection of Christ could have been carried out by a non-believer. A lost man could say as well as a saved man that they had seen Christ heal someone. There is no record in scripture of Christ ever having appeared before a non-believer in His resurrected body, but many lost people have examined these teachings and the historical record and can at least duplicate its message. According to Matthew 7:22-23, some who will preach the gospel and even see people believe in Christ will not believe themselves. In such cases it is the power of the gospel itself that is demonstrated, along with the convicting presence of the Spirit.

So, what is being taught here? If the gospel alone has power, why must the witness or the proclaimer be personally empowered as well? If the power of an automobile is in the engine, then what does it matter how fast the driver can run?

I believe what is being taught here is the importance of the Christian being filled with the Spirit. The Spirit brings conviction in our lives, matures us in the faith, confronts us with the lies we believe, settled the truth of God in our souls, and leads us in our lives. Sharing the gospel is best done by someone who loves the truth of God, who has experienced the truth of God in his heart and soul. The great trait of the Spirit of God is that He does not abide with those who harbor sin in their hearts.

Can a lost man share the gospel? Of course he can. But can he share it the way it ought to be shared – honestly, genuinely, from a heart touched by its truth, with a will surrendered to God, with a genuine repentant heart, with a true love for the Savior? No, he cannot.

The sharing of the gospel should penetrate the walls that man and devils have erected around hearts to keep the truth of God out, and that is best done by ordinary people who have found the life of God in its truth. The average Christian sharing his testimony as he is filled by the Spirit, how Christ has touched him, how the Word of God has convicted him, how the Spirit of God has led him – shared simply and plainly – is still the most powerful evangelistic tool in the arsenal of God.

This means that our effectiveness does not depend on how clever we are, how well we speak, how emotional and dramatic we are, or even how determined we are. It depends on how spiritual we are, or how closely we walk with God. He is the key to the Christian’s and to the church’s effectiveness in witnessing. If we walk with God in honesty of heart, we will find that He will bless our witness.

World-wide Evangelism and Local Evangelism: Some have questioned where we are to begin to share and to serve. Some have said that we ought to first go to the lost world. Others have said that we should only be concerned about those around us here. Which is correct? The answer is found in this little word translated “both” in English translations – te in Greek. It means that we are to be concerned with both the local witness and the worldwide witness. We cannot and should not choose one over the other, but simply and plainly commit to both.

Some commit by going themselves to the ends of the earth, and then writing back home to share their faith with friends and loved ones. Some commit by sharing the the gospel at home and then supporting by prayer and giving those who go into world missions.

All of this depends on the empowering presence of the Spirit of God. What keeps a missionary on the field for a lifetime? What keeps the church through several generations continuing to support world missions? The presence of the Spirit in their hearts and lives does this. Without Him missionaries would quit going and cease staying, and the church would quit sending, praying, and giving.

In all of these things we learn the clear lesson that we must have the Spirit of God in our hearts and lives to share effectively, to love unceasingly, and to stay at the task of world evangelization unerringly. The greatest thing any of us can do to share with the lost world is to start by surrendering our hearts to His Spirit, and asking Him to fill us with Himself.

Christ's Post-Resurrection Appearances , ,