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But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ Acts 2:21

Jesus SavesI remember hearing a story of an old preacher who stopped to pick up a hitchhiker along the road. Usually he didn’t do this but ‘something in his heart’ told him to stop. As he drove down the road with this dirty, long-haired, tattooed young man they passed a highway billboard with the message “Jesus Saves’ with no other explanation.

The young man remarked “WOW, Jesus must be thrifty”.

The story reminds me of at least two things in the walk of a believer.

One is that we guard carefully the terminology we use. The fact of the matter is, few people in our society see the need to be ‘saved’. We have done a good job of convincing people that ‘we are okay’. Rather than throwing all sorts of evangelism terms around and speaking our language as though everyone else will understand, it may be more profitable to spend time listening to and learning the language of the unbeliever. What struggles are they going through? What fears to they have? What makes them angry? How can a relationship with Jesus ‘save them’ from the frustrations they are enduring?

The second thing that this story reminds me is that sometimes the most unlikely people may show an interest in who Jesus is. Okay, maybe I’m reading too much into the imaginary story, but the last time you saw a homeless person, or a person who obviously looked as though they we not doing well, did you look at them with sympathy, disdain or as a chosen creation of our creator God.

Jesus hung out with the people we avoid. He struck up conversations with the people we look on with disgust. He sought out the people we shy away from. Were Jesus to return, I think we would pass on most of our churches and feel far more comfortable in a soup kitchen. He’d be less impressed with the country club atmosphere than he would the ‘aroma’s’ of the streets and alleys.

How can we, as a body of Christ reach out to those who know nothing about Jesus or see him as a thrifty guy? I live in a rural area of America. We have many in our small villages that live at a poverty level lower than some ghettos. Yet they are hidden from view. How can we find them? How can we reach out so that they can find the fulfilling relationship we cherish?

PRAYER: Father God, I am so thankful for the many blessings you have bestowed on us. I confess to you that too often I’m so concerned about my own comfort that I fail to see the pain of others. Empower me to see the needy. Enlighten me on how I can reach them for you. Amen.

The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. As the Scriptures say, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.” 1 Corinthians 1:18-19

wonkaIn ‘Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” there are a couple of instances where ‘Willie’ implores certain misbehaving children to come back, or to stop some activity. It’s humorous because he makes no effort to stop the child. He simply asks them to stop and leaves the ultimate decision up to them. Each child to whom this admonition is given refuses to listen and finds themselves in some predicament needing rescue…and expulsion from the tour.

We can laugh at those antics and choices, but we also need to be aware of the truth exhibited in human nature. The Old Testament story of Noah and the Ark is similar. In Luke 17:27, Jesus is quoted as saying “In those days, the people enjoyed banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat and the flood came and destroyed them all.”

Will it be the same for us? Paul says that we are without excuse in our refusal to follow God. He has shown us through the heavens (which we have explained away as chance); He has shown us through his Word (which we have labeled as irrelevant stories and information); He has shown the ultimate example through his son Jesus Christ (who we executed, not because of his crimes, but because of his refusal to follow the status quo).

One of the last things Jesus told his disciples is that someday he would return for us. The Apostle John tells us more details about this when he says that every eye will see him and every knee will bow before him, regardless of whether they believe or not.

So we are met with two challenges. First of all, will we reject the offer of eternal life with Christ because we’ve refused to accept his free gift? No one will go to hell because of their sin. That was taken care of on the cross. However, we will go to hell for rejecting the free ticket to heaven.

The second challenge is for those of us who know we will enjoy eternity with Christ. Right up until the day Noah entered the Ark he pled with people to accept God. Will we do the same? Will we pray for our enemies and plead with those we love to come to Christ? Or will we simply watch them continue on a path of self-destruction and utter the words of Willie Wonka “No. Stop. Please Don’t.”

There will be many who will mock us during our walk on earth, just as they did Jesus. How will you respond?

PRAYER: Father God. Thank you that I can know I’ll spend eternity with you. Give me the passion to reach others and the opportunities I need to share Jesus. Amen.

*Photo courtesy of Google Photos

In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.” Luke 15:10 (NLT)

He was in his early 20’s. He had quite a reputation around the small town I’d just moved into. Most of his activities revolved around multiple girlfriends and marijuana. Jim (not his real name) and I struck up a friendship as the result of an old man we both worked with at a small factory in town.

The old guy, I’ll call him Richard, was a Bible-thumping Presbyterian who always had a good word for everyone and usually it came from the Bible. Richard had a been a Christian for over 40 years at that time and read the Bible through every one of those years. Richard didn’t just ‘love the Lord’; he walked and talked with him on a daily basis!

As time passed, Richard and I decided to make Jim our very own prayer project. Jim was interested in the Bible, but most of the time it seemed like it was just a good discussion tool and not something he took seriously.

Perhaps that’s the reason why I was so surprised one morning when he showed up at church. I’d invited him but had no thought that he’d actually attend, but there he was at Sunday School in jeans and a t-shirt (which, in this church was simply unheard of and inappropriate).

After Sunday School we talked a bit before I had to excuse myself to tend to some of my responsibilities at the church. I lost track of Jim and couldn’t see him during the worship service either. I assumed (sadly) that he left for home. At the end of the service the pastor announced that he had an introduction to make. He invited Jim to the front of the auditorium. Jim had been sitting up in the front row the whole time. The pastor told how this young man had come to him after Sunday School and prayed to accept Christ as his Savior.

I was moved to tears to say the least. As I made my way through the crowd to try to reach Jim (who was now surrounded by a crowd of ‘welcomers’) one of the deacons stopped me and said, “Say, I see you are painting your house!”

His statement still amuses me in a sense. I tried, as I was choking back tears, to engage in the small talk but on the inside I was screaming “Who cares about my stupid house! Do you realize what just happened here? A soul has come home! A life has been changed! A lost sheep has returned to the fold!”

I think of this story whenever I hear this verse from Luke. Do we, as followers of Jesus Christ, really realize the impact we can have on someone’s eternity? We admire great evangelists who can win 1,000’s to Christ, but the angel’s party in heaven over just one soul. We weren’t put here on earth to make money or to raise families. As Christ-followers, we are here to show those who need the Savior the way to repentance and joy and eternal life.

Let your light shine! Be a part of changing just one persons life today by showing them the love and grace of Jesus Christ. Rejoice in the privilege God has given us to make a difference in someone for eternity!

PRAYER: Lord I thank you for Jesus. It’s amazing to me that the angels rejoice over even one person who comes to you. Empower me to see the great privilege I have to make a difference today. Help me to show someone what Jesus is like and perhaps even have the great privilege of leading them home. Amen

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