Week Five: Jesus and Our Witness

When I read this week’s prayer the first time through, two things caught my eye. First, I was drawn to this plea for God to give me an awareness of the power of the Holy Spirit in me. For the past year or more I’ve had a spiritual hunger to learn more about the Holy Spirit and how He works, and it’s been an interesting journey that was a lot more “hands-on” than academic. Even my devotion I read each day said something on the very morning I was to read this prayer about the power of the Holy Spirit being INSIDE ME.

Secondly, the plea to have a passionate desire to serve Christ in the world has a whole new meaning to me now that I’ve been outside my usual “world.” This past September I was part of a team that went to Israel to meet fellow-Christians in the Palestinian territories. My vision of who God is and how He works expanded exponentially. He met each of our needs as a team, and He was actively at work in each of the situations and lives of the people we met.

So, I sit back and marvel at how God works. He gives me a hunger to learn and an opportunity to meet people half way across the world in the same season. God has caused this spiritual collision in my little world, and I want to pay attention to what He’s saying in the midst of it.

Join me this week as we draw closer and closer to the big collision day – Pentecost: the giving of the Holy Spirit to all who believe in Jesus. Let’s grow in our awareness of the power of the Holy Spirit in us, and let’s be brave and ask God for a passionate desire to serve Christ in the world.

Then we’ll wonder at what He does around us, in us, and through us.

Shelley Johnson

Father God, please grow in me a deeper awareness of the power of the Holy Spirit in me and a passionate desire to serve Christ in the world. Amen.


Day One: 

DAILY — PRAYING SCRIPTURE:

To begin to grasp what it means to be a witness for Jesus, we need to first understand who Jesus is. As you pray through this passage, try to envision what it was like for GOD to submit himself to the status of human. Then imagine why He would do that.

Philippians 2:5-11 (MSG) — Lord, help me to think of myself the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status. In fact, when the time came, He set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, He lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion. Because of that obedience, You, God, lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ and call out in praise that He is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father. Amen.

Ask yourself — What reasons did you come up for WHY Jesus would come to earth as a humble human? What privileges do you need to set aside to better align your heart and life with God? What would it look like for you to live a selfless and obedient life?

Prayer:  Father God, please grow in me a deeper awareness of the power of the Holy Spirit in me and a passionate desire to serve Christ in the world. Amen.


Day Two:

The apostle John walked the earth with Jesus for three years. He knew better than most who Jesus was — Lord, Messiah, Christ, but John used images to help us better grasp this Jesus. Notice the images in this passage, and as you pray try to understand why John would use these particular images.

John 1:1-5, 9-14 — Lord, I know that in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.  He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.  He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.  Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, He gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. Lord, the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. I have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. Amen.

Ask yourself — What does it mean that Jesus was the Word? What does it mean that Jesus was the light of all mankind? Where have you seen his glory?

Prayer:  Father God, please grow in me a deeper awareness of the power of the Holy Spirit in me and a passionate desire to serve Christ in the world. Amen.


Day Three:

As I walked up the steps at the south end of Temple Mount in Jerusalem, it hit me: Jesus. Walked. These. Steps. I just collapsed on the very step I stood and cried. I was so overcome with the reality of it all. Sure, I knew Jesus lived and breathed and was real, but up to that moment, it’d always been a knowing that felt more like legend...maybe because I’d read about Him and heard stories of Him. But it all changed for me that day — when I realized that my feet, my body were on the very place He would’ve walked, it took my breath, and I knew without a doubt that all the stories were true.

1 John 1:1-2 (MSG) — Lord, I confess it’s hard some days to grasp that Jesus actually walked the same earth I walk. I am so grateful for disciples like John who shared their experiences and wrote them down. Help me to believe that “from the very first day, we [the disciples] were there, taking it all in—we heard it with our own ears, saw it with our own eyes, verified it with our own hands. The Word of Life appeared right before our eyes; we saw it happen! And now we’re telling you in most sober prose that what we witnessed was, incredibly, this: The infinite Life of God himself took shape before us.”  Help me believe!  Amen.

Ask yourself — John really wants us to take his word for it — that Jesus is the real deal. He really is the One who can save every single person. He really is the One who died for you and for me. How does this truth move you to action? Who can you share this truth with?

Prayer:  Father God, please grow in me a deeper awareness of the power of the Holy Spirit in me and a passionate desire to serve Christ in the world. Amen.


Day Four: 

There are some passages of Scripture that come to mean more to us as we go through life. Today’s passage is one of those for me. Two decades ago I was part of an incredible women’s weekend that embodied this passage, took it and made it so tangible for me that I’ve never forgotten it. Years later the passage came up again in a study I was part of, and the teacher helped me see how interconnected our Old Testament story is with our New Covenant — the idea that our faces can reflect God’s glory, just as it did for Moses, just as it did for Jesus, was revelatory. Then I wonder, who am I, a humble servant, to reflect God’s glory to others? I am a Christ follower, whose call it is to do that very thing — reflect Him to those around me.

2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (MSG) — Lord, I believe that when I turn to face You as Moses did, You remove the veil, and there we are—face-to-face! Then I suddenly recognize that You are a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. And when You are personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. I am free of it! All of it! Nothing between You and me, my face shining with the brightness of your face. And so I become transfigured, much like the Messiah, my life gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as You enter my life, and I become like You. Thank You! Amen.

Ask yourself — When have you recognized God as a living, personal presence and a living Spirit?  Do you know that through Jesus’ death and resurrection there is nothing, no not one thing, that separates you from Him?  With that truth, how are you becoming more like Him?

Prayer: Father God, please grow in me a deeper awareness of the power of the Holy Spirit in me and a passionate desire to serve Christ in the world. Amen.


Day Five: 

Today’s verse is a simple statement: you are God’s temple. But it’s anything but a simple concept. If we go back to the Old Testament temple, whether in Solomon’s day or Jesus’, it was the same. It had outer courts, inner rooms, and lots of symbolic icons. The smallest, most inner room of the temple, the Holy of Holies, is where God’s presence dwelled. Only one day of the year could any human enter the Holy of Holies and live (and then it was only the High Priest) — not because God was cruel or elitist but because God was (and is) so holy. We, imperfect and sinful humans, can never be holy enough to enter God’s presence on our own, which is why we need Jesus. When Jesus died for us, His sacrifice became our atonement — it paid the price to make us clean and holy. That’s why today, under the New Covenant, we can go directly to God in prayer. And how, as followers of Christ, the Holy Spirit can dwell IN us, making each of us God’s temple.
1 Corinthians 3:16 — Lord, as I hear this question, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” I wonder if I live as though I believe it’s true. Lead me to a greater understanding of what it means to have the Holy Spirit in me, that I am your temple. Amen.

Ask yourself — How would it look for you to live as though you believe the Holy Spirit actually lives in you? When you consider your body as God’s temple, what habits might need to cease? What habits might need to be taken up? And, more importantly, how can you remember that it is Jesus who makes you holy? How can the truth of the Spirit’s presence in you empower you to share with others your story of how Jesus has changed your life?

Prayer: Father God, please grow in me a deeper awareness of the power of the Holy Spirit in me and a passionate desire to serve Christ in the world. Amen.


Day Six:

Though I’ve never been in a courtroom as a witness in a trial, I do understand the concept. Lawyers call “to the stand” people who can verify some truth they want to present as evidence to the court. These people are witnesses. To be a witness, the person must have been there — they must have first-hand knowledge of the action or person in question.   It does no good for a witness to sit there and claim “they heard” from someone else. It doesn’t count. It isn’t valid.

If we translate this to what it means to be a witness for Jesus, the concept holds true. To be a valid witness to the power and grace and truth of Jesus, we must have personal experience; we must have first-hand knowledge to what Jesus has done in our lives...or people will have no reason to believe us. So as you pray through today’s verse, let the truth of what it means to be a witness sink in, and don’t miss the fact that you are empowered by the Holy Spirit to be that witness.

Acts 1:8 — Lord, You have told me that I received power when the Holy Spirit came on me and that I will be your witness in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. I pray that the power that comes with being a follower of Jesus is so strong that I can no longer deny the call to be your witness to whomever and wherever You lead me. Amen.

Ask yourself — Are you a follower of Jesus? If so, you already have the power you need to go out into the world to be a witness for Jesus. What is one way that you could be a witness to his love today? To his grace tomorrow?

Prayer: Father God, please grow in me a deeper awareness of the power of the Holy Spirit in me and a passionate desire to serve Christ in the world. Amen.


Day Seven: 

Prayer: Father God, please grow in me a deeper awareness of the power of the Holy Spirit in me and a passionate desire to serve Christ in the world. Amen.

This year we lost one of the best evangelists ever. Billy Graham was a true witness for Jesus. I can only guess how many people came to Christ because of his life’s work. Are you like me and a bit intimidated at the prospect of being a witness? I hear myself saying, “I’m no Billy Graham.” And that’s just it — we aren’t!  But we are followers of Christ, so that means we too are called to be witnesses...even if it doesn’t look like a Billy Graham revival.  What if each of us witnessed to one person, leading that person to know Jesus as Lord? Then what if we each came alongside “our” person and helped them get to know Jesus personally, showing them how to read Scripture and pray daily? If we each did this with one person, the world would be transformed! One person at a time! As you pray and journal today, ask God to show you who that one person is for you, then pray for the power of Holy Spirit to give you courage to share your story with someone.