Are You Seeking The Lost?

sheep“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”   Luke 19:10

(Some of the information in today’s devotional comes from the sermon I heard this morning at church)

Children wander away from their parents and get lost. People driving to a location they’ve never been to before take a wrong turn, becoming lost. But there are also millions of people around the world who are lost in another way. They are spiritually lost.

Some of these lost souls don’t realize they are lost. They’ve never heard of Jesus Christ and His saving grace, so they don’t know they need a Savior.

Others don’t want to admit they’re lost. They may know they are missing something in their lives, but they’re too embarrassed to let people know they are lost and could use some help.

Still others know they’re lost and they don’t care.

A 4th group realize something is missing and they begin to ask questions.

Jesus came to seek and save the spiritually lost. Aren’t we as Christians supposed to follow His example? How are people who don’t go to church going to hear about mercy and grace through Jesus Christ if we don’t tell them?

I know what you’re thinking – “I’m not an evangelist. I can’t do this.”  I do not have the gift of evangelism either. I become very anxious just thinking about sharing the Gospel with others face to face.

However, there are three things we can do:

1. Seek the lost. They are all around us. Think about someone you know who doesn’t know Jesus Christ.

2. Pray for the heart of Christ. Ask Him to open your eyes and heart for reaching out.

3. Take in a big view of the Good News. Evangelism is not only going door to door telling people about Jesus. It can be done through random acts of kindness, showing the love of Jesus. If people see you doing this consistently they will begin to ask why you are doing it. This will open the door for you to share your testimony. You can also share your story through writing, like I do.  Send letters to unsaved friends and family members telling of God’s grace. Today’s social media is a great way to reach people with the Gospel.

Some day Jesus will return. In the meantime, we need to do our part in reaching as many people as we can with the love and Word of God. What will your role be in this all-important mission?

Dear Lord Jesus, The word “evangelism” makes me very nervous. I want others to hear about You, but I’m scared to take that first step. Please show me ways I can spread Your Word. Give me the confidence to step out of my comfort zone to become a messenger of the Good News. Help me to plant seeds in people’s hearts and minds. In Your Name I pray, Amen.

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Be Courageous

IM000377.JPG“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”   Joshua 1:9

Moses had died. Joshua was now the leader over the Israelites. They were at the brink of entering the land God promised to them. However, other people occupied those cities and battles would be fought. God told Joshua, “Be strong and courageous. . . your God will be with you.”

As we live our everyday lives we face battles which can sometimes create a strain on what we believe and know is right. Satan puts thoughts in our heads causing us to doubt decisions we make.

Writers are plagued with thoughts of insecurity, doubts, and fears. “My writing isn’t good enough.” “Why would anybody want to read what I write?”

God’s encouraging words to Joshua are encouragement to writers as well. We need to be courageous and write what we know God wants us to write. God gives us the ideas, however He is not going to put those ideas onto the paper. That’s our job and God will not abandon us as we do this work.

The devil likes to mess with our minds. Don’t let him. God told Joshua, “Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged.” He’s telling us the same thing. God would not have given us the passion to write without also giving us the strength and power to defy Satan in the process.

Be courageous. Keep writing. Don’t let the evil one convince you that your writing isn’t important. There is someone somewhere who is waiting to read what you write. God is preparing the way. Heed His command and continue on your journey.

Dear Lord who is over all things, Erase these fears and doubts from my mind. Please be my constant reminder that my writing matters to someone, even if that someone is only me. Instill in me the courage to continue my writing journey to the fulfillment of Your plan for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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God’s Command

942436_10200539607545673_710765186_nIn the book of Exodus we find the account of Joshua leading the Israelites to fight the Amalekites (Exodus 17:8-16). While the fighting commenced, Moses stood on a hill holding up his hands. As long as his hands were held high the Israelites were victorious. When the battle ended God issued a command to Moses:

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven’.”    Exodus 17:14

God wanted to make sure future generations knew what took place on that day. The only way people in years to come would remember it would be if someone wrote it down exactly as events unfolded. This written word could then be passed down and read from generation to generation.

God has placed a story in your soul which needs to be put on paper. Maybe it’s a journal or a memoir. Perhaps it’s a story conveying good Biblical principles in a way others can easily understand. Whatever God is laying on your heart to write, WRITE IT.

Do you have a nagging feeling in your soul or are you experiencing a tugging inside the pit of your stomach to write a particular story, poem, article? There’s a reason for that feeling. God is telling you, just like He commanded Moses, to write it down.

God has a plan for your writing about which you have no clue. It could be a member of your family or a stranger miles away who needs to read your story. Listen to God and obey. Start writing.

Dear God, I feel that You want me to put a certain story down on paper, but it is difficult for me to write. I’m asking, Lord, please help me to get started and then send me encouragement to keep working on it til it’s finished. In addition, I ask for Your guidance as to who You want to read it, whether it will be just for family or if I should pursue publication. I cannot do this on my own. Please be by my side every step of the way. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Book Review – Churchless – Understanding Today’s Unchurched and How to Connect With Them

978-1-4143-8709-3The Barna Group, a research and resource company, conducted nationwide research interviewing more than 20,000 churched and unchurched adults. This book is the result of that research. The first few chapters provide a lot of statistics that may be difficult to get through, but continue reading because in the later chapters the editors bring all the information together and provide insights for churches regarding how to reach the unchurched.

Ministers, church leaders, and lay people who have a heart for reaching out will find this book eye opening. They will see that churches today cannot use methods from the 50’s – 80’s anymore. Churches need to enter the 21st century and approach outreach in new ways. “Churchless” is full of information to do just that and it’s easy to read.

(A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes)

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Give In or Resist

IM000331.JPG“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”  I Corinthians 10:12-13

Temptations call out to us in varying degrees all the time. They can be in the form of a piece of delicious chocolate cake when you are trying to lose weight; you are an accountant for a large company, no one will notice if you take a few dollars now and then; you are caught doing something wrong and you are tempted to lie your way out of it.

In the Gospels we read how Jesus was tempted by the devil three times while He was fasting in the wilderness. The thought of turning stones into bread must have been very tempting when He was so hungry from fasting. Becoming ruler of the world immediately instead of in the future could give a person a moment’s thought. However, Jesus had the knowledge of and faith in the Scriptures to help Him fight the temptations. God provided Him a way out.

On the other hand, some people in the Bible did give in to temptations. When in Egypt Abram lied saying Sarai was his sister, not his wife, for fear of being killed. While wondering in the wilderness God told Moses and Aaron to strike the rock and water would come flowing out. However, instead of giving God the credit and honor Moses said, “Listen, you rebels, must WE bring you water out of this rock?”  (Numbers 20:10) Moses gave in to the temptation of power.

We can look at these examples of people who gave in and say, “I’d never to that.” Don’t be so confident. None of us are immune to temptations. In times of weakness we’ll give in to those temptations just as Abram and Moses did.

We do not need to let temptations have the upper hand. When we are tempted God always provides a way out just as He did for Jesus in the wilderness. Our choice is: do we give in to the temptation or do we trust God and His provision for resisting?

When you are faced with a temptation, no matter how large or small, you need to make a decision – give in or resist. You will face temptations. That’s a fact. What choice will you make?

Dear Lord, In this world ruled by Satan, temptations abound. Help me to resist, to make the right choice and rely on Your provided alternative. I am weak. I ask for strength and wisdom so when temptations come my way I’ll know what I am to do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Which Way Should I Go?

IM000061.JPG“After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.”  Acts 16:10

When you read the verses (6-9) previous to today’s verse you’ll see that Paul traveled to different regions, but the Holy Spirit kept him from preaching in the providence of Asia and wouldn’t allow him to enter other places. Then Paul had a vision and he knew where he was to go.

Daily we face decisions, some minor like what we’ll wear to work, and some major like what college to attend or choosing the person to marry. We choose a way we want to go but obstacles keep popping up, preventing us from going in that direction. Finally, as we narrow down the options, we are directed toward the right decision. We hear that soft voice or get that feeling in the pit of our stomachs and we just know what or what not to do. That’s the Holy Spirit guiding us.

Are you just starting on your writing journey and trying to figure out in which genre you are to write? You try writing articles, but you find you are not excited about interviewing people and doing the kind of research that’s needed. You attempt to write devotionals, but things are not clicking. You find the writing is more drudgery than fun.

You start to write a novel, thinking to yourself there’s money to be had in writing novels. You observe people in your writers’ group who are working on novels and you think you should be doing that too. However, again you hit a brick wall and say to yourself, “I’m not enjoying this at all.”

Then an idea for a short story comes to your mind and you can’t wait to get the words down on paper. The story excites you and practically writes itself. The characters appear to be developing themselves right in front of your eyes. You have found your niche.

Through the whole process of finding our individual niche the Holy Spirit is guiding us. God knows what He wants us to write. Sometimes it takes us a while to get the message.

Trust the process. Forget what your mind’s worldly thoughts are telling you about what you should write. Go with your heart, regardless what benefits the world will or will not bring. Your joy, your reward, will come through the writing if you are writing from the heart what God has led you to write. Let the Holy Spirit be your guide, just as He was for Paul, and you will write in the perfect genre for you, chosen by God.

Dear Lord, I know You want me to write, but I am struggling to figure out what I should write. I ask for the leading of Your Holy Spirit as I go through the process of determining in which genre I am to write. Please make Your will known to me where my writing is concerned. I ask this in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Foundation

030“Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.”    Matthew 7:24 & 26

Architects know the importance of having a strong foundation before any structure is built. As Jesus demonstrated in His parable of The Wise Man & The Foolish Man, a building will not survive if the foundation is unsteady and constantly shifting.

Having a strong foundation to build our lives upon is also important. Life is fragile and ever-changing. Without a sturdy base to cling to our lives can fall apart. For the Christian this infrastructure is Jesus Christ.

As writers our base consists of fellow writers who help keep us on track so we don’t despair when our writing doesn’t go the way we hope. Along with these people we have a storehouse of books written by successful writers which teach us the ropes of this whole writing business.

However, our ultimate bedrock as Christian writers is Jesus. We are never to forget that. He is with us every step of the way on our writing journey. Our passion, our ideas, our motivation, everything comes from Him.

Don’t forget Jesus while you are writing. Begin your writing sessions with prayer. He has laid the strong foundation. Depend on it to remain solid and secure. Then no matter what happens you won’t feel discouraged or destroyed.

Dear Jesus, My Rock, Please give me the wisdom to always rely and build upon the foundation You provide. My trek through life and my journey through writing need a solid base to begin from and continue to grow upon. I don’t want to be like the foolish man who thinks shifting sand is a secure foundation. May Your Holy Spirit be constant in my life and may the reminder of You as my Rock be always in my heart and mind.     In Your precious Name,   Amen

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In God’s Timing

IM000036.JPG“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”   Romans 8:22-25

As I’m writing this I’m waiting for a phone call telling me a grandchild is on the way. The official due date has come and gone. We grandparents, as well as the parents, are impatiently awaiting its arrival. I say “its” because no one, including the parents, know if its a boy or a girl. This adds another component to the anxiousness. We’ve been hoping and praying a long time for this child. Now that we are so close to the reality of seeing him or her patience has flown right out the window.

Yet, the Apostle Paul tells us that anything worthy of our hope we must “wait for it patiently”. That is not an easy thing to do. On a larger scale, look at our world. It’s a mess. We are told God is in control, but at the present time it appears the devil is getting the upper hand in many places. Deep down in our hearts we know God has already conquered Satan, however, Satan is to have his time, and he sure is taking advantage of that time.

God has a plan in place and it will come to fruition in His timing. We cannot control what others do. What we can do is keep our hope focused on the promises of God and remain patient. That’s a tall order when we see things falling apart around us. We want to see at least a glimpse of His plan being played out.

Maybe we are seeing God’s plan. Could the exacerbation of evil be the beginning of God’s ultimate promise of Christ’s return? We don’t know and we won’t know until it actually happens. We can only hope in what’s to come and be patient.

How can we maintain our patience and not become discouraged? Turn to God. Read the Bible daily. Be constantly reminded of the promises He has given us. Let your faith in God grow and soar. And live your life the best way you can by following examples set forth by Jesus Christ.

That’s what we can do. God is in control and everything that happens in our personal lives, in our country, in this world happens in His timing. Therefore, rely on Him, keep hope alive on things to come, and wait patiently.

Dear God, Lord over all creation, I believe You have control over everything. However, sometimes it is so difficult to remain patient while Your plans unfold for my personal life and for the world. Please give me the strength to keep my focus and hope on You and Your promises. Patience is a virtue, but impatience creeps in so easily. I need Your Holy Spirit to continually remind me that everything will work out in Your timing and according to Your plan. Thank You.

In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen

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Encouragement Needed

IM000749.JPG“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”   Hebrews 10:24-25

“No man (or woman) is an island.” This saying is so true. We need each other to get through difficult times and celebrate good times. God didn’t make us to be solitary creatures. He meant for us to have fellowship and relationships with other people. Through those relationships we can encourage each other, lend a helping hand, and be a shoulder to cry on or a strong arm of support.

Writing is a solitary activity, but writers are not supposed to be solitary people. Every writer needs other writers. We need to be spurred on to keep going when rejection letters come our way. We must have critiques of our writing done lovingly by fellow writers so we can grow our craft. Writers need people around them who speak the same language and have experienced the same struggles regarding writing.

The writer of Hebrews knew it was important for Christians in the new church to have others they could count on. Christians today must continue meeting together in worship and fellowship to encourage and support each other.

Writers can learn from these verses. We also need to meet in groups routinely for fellowship and support. A small group of writer friends we can depend on to help us with our writing and keep pushing us is essential for our growth in this craft.

It’s OK to find a quiet place to write alone, but don’t forget the support you can receive and the encouragement you can give by including other writers in your life.

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Slow Down

Lake MI 3“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”   Matthew 11:28-30

Life is full of chaos. Daily we are pulled in fifty different directions. Family, work, social life, and other obligations demand our time and energy. However, our bodies and minds were not made to be constantly in motion. If we don’t take time to stop and rest our bodies are eventually going to make us stop. We become exhausted and ill. We experience burnout physically and emotionally. Add a crisis that comes out of the blue – a death of a loved one, a child who’s gotten into major trouble, sudden loss of a job – and we explode. We reach a point where we just can’t handle any more. What can we do?

Jesus tells us what to do. We are to slow down, take a deep breath, and go to Him. We owe it to ourselves and to Jesus to spend time alone with Him. Take the time to get away from everyone and everything else. Go to another room, shut the door, and pour out your heart to Jesus. He promises to provide comfort and rest.

Don’t misunderstand me. The chaos will still be there. The situation or the hectic life isn’t going to disappear because we went to Jesus. However, talking with Him produces a calming affect. He helps you to think more clearly and look at the situation at hand. Jesus may lead you in a direction to solve the problem and ease the turmoil which you never thought of. Or there may be no immediate resolution and you have to ride out the storm. If that’s the case Jesus can provide you with the strength and inner peace to make it through and accept what is happening.

We need to take time daily to physically rest our bodies. Likewise, we need to give time for the resting of our souls. Don’t wait for turmoil to strike before you do this. Start now while your life is in a relatively calm state to focus on your spiritual/emotional rest by going to Jesus with the normal concerns and joys of living each day. Then when chaos hits your life you already have the foundation of talking to Him.

Jesus is available 24/7. Take advantage of His availability and go to Him. He is waiting to help. Slow down and reach out to Him. He will provide rest.

Dear Jesus, Just living in today’s society can be hectic and demanding. Then when an unexpected crisis gets thrown into the mix I panic and don’t know which way to turn. I’m asking You, Lord, to have your Holy Spirit work in me daily, reminding me to spend quiet time with You. Then when a crisis comes my first response will be to turn to You for rest, peace, and guidance.  In Your Name I pray,    Amen

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