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 Irony of God

Irony often pertains to a sense of humor, but often it’s deadly serious. So it is with God. Read on.

When the spies returned and gave their cowardly report to Israel about the strength of their enemies, everyone cried out against Moses and God. They said they would all die if they invaded the promised land, and their children would become “plunder” (Num.14:1-3). God was listening!

They forgot God’s constant care over their 40-year desert journey and convinced themselves that all was lost. They let their human hearts deceive them. We’re told in Jeremiah 17:9-10 that “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” God warned in Proverbs 4:23 that each of us needs to “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for out of it flow the springs of life.” The human heart can be a wonderful thing, but we can let it become sour and corrupt.

This is where God’s irony comes in. When our hearts lead us away, God may well deal with us in surprising ways. Israel cried out that their children would become plunder in the promised land. God replied, “Your little ones who you said would become a prey…shall enter there, and I will give it to them, and they shall possess it” (Deut.1:39). God always judges righteously, and with surprising effects.

Back in Jeremiah’s passage, God continued, “I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.”

Guard your heart and keep it pure, for God searches what’s inside and deals with us appropriately. Israel didn’t, and suffered His precise and ironic judgment. Let that never happen to you.

– Tim Johnson

Quality Assurance

We live in a society where the quantity of words is more common than the quality of them. “Talk is cheap” and “Actions speak louder than words” are common phrases. And while these have some merit in the right context, it is of great importance we do not undermine the value of speech.

God places eternal authority on value of words, Christ himself is referred to as “the Word” in John 1:14. And he put great emphasis on the quality of our words throughout his ministry. In Matthew 15:18 he warns, “But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man unclean.” This admonition is continued in the book of James regarding speech, “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.” (James 1:26). Christ also confirmed the eternal existence of God’s word in Matthew 24:35, “Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will never pass away.” Continue reading