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Listen while you read: "All Creatures Of Our God And King"1 (Lyrics)
As I was walking along the trail with my dog, I was deep in thought. For a long time, I had been praying about speaking to a close friend of mine about the need to accept Jesus in her life. I knew that it would be tricky because she was Jewish, but I felt that it was my place as her Christian friend to witness to her.
Yesterday, I had jumped in with both feet. Given the fact that we had talked about my beliefs in Jesus on more than one occasion, I felt that it was safe to respond to a comment she made about all religions being equal. I told her that I disagreed, because I believed that Jesus was the only way to heaven. She suddenly exploded and called me a bigot. Then she told me that she could not be friends with a bigot, and she walked away.
I was feeling so badly, and trying to figure out what I should do to try and smooth the situation over, when I noticed a large grapevine curling around a sumac bush.
I had seen many grapevines over the years, but none of them had ever borne any grapes. I wondered if there just might be some on this one. Pushing aside some leaves, I spotted a tiny bunch of seven grapes growing down near the bottom of the vine; five were green and two were blue, like tiny blueberries. I was so excited! I pulled off the two blue ones and popped them into my mouth. I couldn't wait for the anticipated sweetness of the juice as I bit down on them.
What a shock to my taste buds! Bits of blue came flying out of my mouth as I attempted to get rid of the offending fruit. For several minutes, I continued to spit in a very unladylike manner, but the bitterness remained.
As an outdoor education teacher, I knew that it was too early in the season for any fruit to be ripe. But in my excitement, I simply didn't think, and now I was paying the price.
Suddenly, this passage popped into my mind:
Ecclesiastes 3:1,2b – To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted. (NKJV)
Then another thought followed almost immediately. I knew that it was God's purpose that all people might be saved, so my willingness to witness was in line with His will. However, in my eagerness, I had forgotten that it was the Holy Spirit Who did the work, not my words. The answer to my original question was suddenly crystal clear. In order to bring about this harvest, the planting of the Word must also be done in His time and in His way. Simply put, I had run ahead of God. Then, I asked the Lord to forgive me and give me another chance. And knowing how quickly He was to forgive, my heaviness of heart lifted, and I continued along the trail with a song of praise and thanksgiving in my heart.
Sometimes, in our eagerness to witness, we run ahead of the Lord, and when there is no outward response, we may feel that we have driven the person further away from Christ. We may feel guilty and be afraid to try again. But this is false guilt, a tool that the enemy uses to discourage us from witnessing. Once the seed has been planted, we need to allow the Spirit to nourish it and not attempt to "pick green fruit", or push for a decision. When the fruit is ripe, the Spirit will provide us with the opportunity of harvesting it, if it is His will.
The good news is that I got a phone call that very night from my Jewish friend who told me that she cared too much for me to end our friendship, so she had decided that she would have to have one bigoted friend. How I thanked God for His loving forgiveness and mercy! Next time, I will wait for the fruit to ripen.
Prayer: Thank You, Father, for the desire to share Your precious Word with others. Please give us Your wisdom to listen for Your direction and to watch for Your opportunities. Then give us the courage to speak Your words that will win them to Jesus Christ. Amen.
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A good word Sharon.
I enjoyed your devotion. It is hard to wait on the Lord!
God has obviously blessed you with care and love, courage and discernment. May He continue to bless you in all things.
Sharon, all I can say right now is WOW, this devotional hit home. Thank you.
Great message, Sharon.
Relevant too – we all want things to happen faster than is good for us, don’t we?
Thank you Sharon for sharing this wonderful testimony with us. It is so full of truths and God’s grace and mercy. Blessings on your week to come.
Excellent story and sharing. God bless you and your friend.
Thank you for this devotional. As a Christian to me one of the hardest challenges is to know how to handle such a situation as you had, but your words are so correct … in God’s time.
In my conversations with Jewish friends and colleagues I seldom suggest Christ is the only way to heaven, but rather – have you ever considered the possibility that Christ is the Messiah and the Jewish leaders of the time miscalculated, like so many religious leaders continue to do today?
If we all step back, we realize that Christ is the one religious individual who had to be God as he never put down any one but the bigoted and the mean-spirited and always promoted peace, love and acceptance of the other.
Keep up the writing.
Good Morning Sharon:
The spirit of God moved, your friend did call you on the phone and say she was still interested in having you as one of her dear friends. Do not push the issue of her becoming a Christian. Your lifestyle and dedication to your Lord will be the very best witness you can possibly display for Him. He will speak to her heart in His own time, Christ never, never forces Himself upon people. Remember the picture of Christ standing at the door. The opener is on the inside, we must open our hearts to Him. He is a gentleman and will not invade our lives if we do not want Him.
Too often we pray about things and then run frantically ahead of our Lord doing things the way we think they should be done. Be calm and patient and one day your friend will look full into the face of Jesus and claim Him as Savior and Lord. I know sometimes it is hard to be patient, but allow Him to do His work in His own time.
Sharon: As we age there seems to be less and less time in each day. We ignore that God always gives ENOUGH time, as well as when and where. Thank you for the very timely reminder. Blessings,