A Heart for the Lost

The apostle Paul was a driven man. He said in Romans 1:15 that he was “eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.” As far as we know, he had never visited that largest of first century cities, but he wanted to. The place teemed with people from all over the world and it would have been a natural place for the interest of an evangelist. He loved the lost and wanted to save them. This should be a prime motivation for the Lord’s church. Great congregations are always reaching out to the lost.               

Concern for the lost comes from God Himself.  In the book of Hosea God pictured His love for His wayward people like the love Hosea had for his wandering wife. “Therefore, I will allure her, bring her into the wilderness, and speak kindly to her” (2:14). He longed to bring His people back home again. He even sent Jonah to preach to the dreaded people of Nineveh. Why? Because he cared for the lost and wanted to move them to repentance before He had to judge them.               

The rulers of Israel were scolded through Ezekiel because “the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost” (34:4). Shepherds must care.

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Jesus kindly spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-45), then spent two more days in her city teaching its residents and creating believers. He could have easily skipped the place on his busy journey up north, but he stopped to save the lost.

The heart of the church needs to be tuned to the lost around us. It’s what Jesus wants to see in us. It’s how the church grows, for if we don’t care for the lost, we fail to reach them with the message of life. Yes, the lost can be frustrating when they refuse our interest in them, but we must continue to seek others. How many did Paul convert? Far less than he spoke to. But he rejoiced that he had managed to save some (1 Cor.9:22).

All of us were once lost, but somebody loved us and brought us to Jesus. Do that for someone else. It’s an obligation of love.

– Tim Johnson

The Baby in the Bushes

There’s nothing as heartwarming as the rescue of a young child. The news this week reported a long-awaited phone call between Mary Crabb of England and Harry Curtis of Ottawa. Harry’s father, Ernie, was a soldier in England in 1941. Out on patrol one day, he and two others heard the cry of a baby in the bushes beside a rural roadway near London. Apparently, the child had been abandoned right after birth. The soldiers quickly wrapped the baby girl in a shirt and sent her off to a hospital. The following year, she was adopted by a British family. Mary, now 77, grew up in a good home, eventually got married and had her own children and grandchildren. Back in Canada, Ernie always wondered about the baby he’d rescued and passed away without any answers; Mary always wondered what happened to her rescuers. With the help of an old photo, the pieces of the story were recently put together and the phone call soon put Mary together with Ernie’s son, Curtis. It was quite a conversation. Thanks to the quick thinking of a kind soldier in 1941, a child was given a normal life.

There’s a remarkably similar story in Ezekiel 16 about an abandoned child God rescued, brought back to good health, and raised to adulthood. It’s a figurative story of the kindness of God as he cared for the Israelites in captivity and brought them out into maturity as a nation. It’s worth reading, for it has repercussions for our own lives.

God takes hurt and struggling people who have been uncared for or abandoned and gives them new lives in Jesus Christ. What one of us hasn’t felt lost, mixed-up and hopeless? How many of us have felt the results of our own bad decisions, big mistakes and poor attitudes? It’s at that point that we can reach out to the Lord, for he’s waiting for us with a welcoming hand. He wants to forgive us and help us find our way. Eventually, like Mary Crabb, we can experience great lives.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heaven-laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

– Tim Johnson

Commitment to the Truth

Now most Christians understand they need to be committed to the truth, but I’m talking about commitment to the truth about people. In our world today, it seems that someone’s reputation doesn’t matter anymore. False accusations and slander are easily thrown around and someone’s dignity is soiled.                

When Israel returned from Babylon and legally began to rebuild Jerusalem, her enemies didn’t like it. Ezra 4 tells us they offered to help with the construction, but the Jews saw through their false intentions and refused. Incensed, a letter was fired off to the Persian king Artaxerxes full of slander about the Jews. They claimed that the Jews were rebellious troublemakers and that when Jerusalem was completed, no taxes or tolls would be paid again. This caused a lot of hardship for the Jews and it took quite a while to legally exonerate themselves and get on with their work. A little slander, a little lack of respect for people’s reputations goes a long way to causing great troubles. Often, it’s because somebody didn’t get what they w

Joseph was thrown into jail because his boss’s wife accused him of rape (Gen.39:7-20). Stephen lost his life because certain jealous people couldn’t deal with his powerful preaching and they cooked up false accusations against him (Acts 6:9-12). And need I remind us that Jesus was crucified because of similar false accusations? (Luke 23:1-2).

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We need to be committed to the truth about people. Give people an honest chance. Refuse to spread unfounded information of which you are unsure. Ephesians 4:25 says, “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbour, for we are members one of another.” We’re also told in Colossians 3:8, “But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.”

We all want a good reputation. Let’s make sure we don’t inadvertently harm someone else’s.

– Tim Johnson

The Things That Matter

With a week of 2019 already behind us, there are lots of interesting things planned for the rest of the year in Canada and the world. Here’s a few: A federal election is planned for October; we might have a new Prime Minister. A new rocket-launching spaceport will begin its construction phase – in Cape Breton. The Toronto Raptors and Maple Leafs are currently doing so well, we might see them reach the playoffs. And in the tech world, 3-D printing will become so developed, dentists may be able to print out a set of false teeth for those who need it. With so many discouraging things happening in the world right now, there are always interesting things to look forward to. Let’s hope some of them will be beneficial to man.

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However, these things only affect us in the physical world around us.  Peter reminded us that the entire universe is destined to come to an end at the day of the Lord (2 Pet.3:10-11). Therefore, there are more important things that will affect people eternally, and these should occupy our minds. Things like sharing the gospel that saves man from judgment (Mk.16:15-16), helping people improve their lives as Christians so they will be effective and happy, relieving the sufferings of brothers and sisters (1 Jn.3:17-18), showing mercy and kindness to people around us, and strengthening the church, which is “the pillar and support of the truth” (1 Tim.3:15).

We can enjoy the achievements of man, but it is a greater joy to be involved in triumphs of the faith. Let’s especially pay attention to these.    

– Tim Johnson

The Wisdom of Two

One day Solomon thought about the labours of man, and wrote, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labour. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.” (Eccles.4:9-10). In his day, most people worked on farms and in the fields where it is hard for one person to handle large animals and heavy harvests. Injuries were common, but easier to survive with friends helping out.

Jesus taught his disciples to do things together. He sent them out in pairs (Luke 10:1), and told them to love and care for each other (John 15:12).  Jesus Himself was part of the tri-une Godhead, always working hand-in-hand with the Father and the Spirit. We are called into a fellowship with them, and with other people. While there are many things we must do alone, it is better to seek out others to help you accomplish things, work on projects, and go see people.

There are times in life when some people must work in solitude. It was that way for Jesus on earth. Many missionaries and preachers must labour alone. If it continues too long, the results can be tragic. It is always best to have the help of at least one other person.

Solomon’s concern seems to be for the results when one “falls.” This means illness, injury or discouragement. These are hard to handle without friends.

Remember the wisdom of two.

– Tim Johnson