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

A New Competition

We live in a very competitive world. We try to outdo one another, get ahead of each other, and try to carve out attention for ourselves and our opinions. People are often put down or ignored in the quest to come out on top. Competition can be a healthy thing, but not in relationships.

Paul said, “…and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ” (Eph.5:21). After living a life of getting his own way, this apostle bowed to the Lord on the Damascus road (Acts 9) and subjected himself to his fellow apostles (Galatians 2). It saved his soul and ushered him into the encouraging fellowship of the church.

Jacob subjected himself to his brother, Esau, after two decades of estrangement and grudges; it restored a difficult family. Joshua subjected himself to Moses and eventually took his place. David subjected himself to the prophet Nathan, repenting of disturbing sins and getting his life back on track. Subjection is not a sign of weakness, it’s humility solving problems.

It has a lot to do with honouring each other. “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honour” (Rom.12:10). A footnote says, “outdo one another in showing honour.” This speaks of the care and regard we are to have towards each other. We extend it to each other in the fear of Christ. If Jesus honoured us by giving His life, we ought to honour each other.

Jesus turns competition up-side-down. Instead of competing for prominence, we outdo one another in showing honour.

Who have you honoured today?

– Tim Johnson

The Marvel of Grace

Often, before a meal-time prayer, we hear someone announce, “Let us say grace.” I’m not sure when such prayers began to be called grace, but it is a commonly-accepted practice today. In prayer we ask for God to give us His grace, so the prayer itself likely adopted the name. But there’s more to grace than human prayers.

God’s nature is that of grace. He is a gracious God. He is a grace-giving God. God is love. His grace brings salvation to all men and women of the world, hoping they will consider it.

Grace is a wonderful word. It means the free, unmerited favor of God. Grace is free but not cheap. It is the costliest gift ever offered.

Grace cost the Son of God his life. He, the friend of sinners, came into the world to make an infinite sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. Potentially, His grace extends from the first human being to the last one that will ever live.

Jesus is the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He was born to be crucified. He suffered our death that we might receive His life. He bore our sins that we might become righteous. He became poor that we might have His riches.

D.L. Moody said about the grace of God, “Grace isn’t a little prayer that you chant before receiving a meal. It is a way to live. The law tells me how crooked I am. Grace comes along and straightens me out.”

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 3:18

– Tim and David Johnson

A Day For Families

Tomorrow is Family Day here in Ontario. The first time it was celebrated in our province was in 2007, but its origins come from an earlier celebration in Alberta. Eight out of our ten provinces observe it, some using different titles. It’s encouraging to see our country acknowledge the importance of families.

The world over, families are viewed as the foundation of society. The first family was, of course, Adam and Eve (Gen.3:24). The book of Genesis is full of stories of the patriarchs searching for good people to marry, their successes and failures. Soon adultery and polygamy began to spoil things, the first being that of Lamech’s illicit relationships that were accompanied by violence (Gen.4). That has continued throughout time and is present today. But that doesn’t destroy the need for good families. In fact, all nations have passed laws protecting families, usually out of concern for the welfare of children or the orderly allotment of assets should a family dissolve.

There is nothing quite like a good family. Think about the following:

· Commitment adds security

· Love adds joy

· Children add focus

· Grandchildren add fun

· Old age adds appreciation

· Common faith adds purpose

No family is perfect. Sometimes there are disagreements, differences and poor attitudes. But love, commitment and determination will help a family moderate, adjust, prevail, and thrive.

Some people lose much of their families to abandonment, death, or to great physical distances. As Christians we must step in to help look after such people, for we are family in Christ – the household of God (1 Tim.3:15).

Enjoy your family this weekend, but also reach out to those who are alone. You’ll be blessed if you do both.

– Tim Johnson

Thoughts on Mother’s Day

Galatians 6:10 says, “As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially those who belong to the family of believers.” Writers have said many practical things about human behaviour. The following are a few of them:

If we wait until we feel like doing something – spending time with family, cleaning the garage, visiting a friend in the hospital (or calling your parent on Mother’s Day – Tim) – chances are we will wait a long time.

It is helpful that to learn to act ourselves into a better way of feeling, rather than to feel ourselves into a better way of acting. In other words, we have to act better than we feel.

The point is, we shouldn’t wait until we feel like doing something good. Those who don’t feel like it do most of the good in the world. Said one writer, “Be sure that behaviour will ultimately change our feelings.”

We should not waste time bothering whether or not we love our neighbour – act as if we do. As soon as we do this, we will find one of the greatest secrets: When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him or her.

– David Johnson, with revisions from Tim