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PRAYERS TO PRAISES

WE WALK THROUGH AN EMOTIONALLY EXHAUSTING JOURNEY WHERE WE'RE CONSTANTLY TRYING TO PLEASE PEOPLE, BARELY BEING ABLE TO MOVE AROUND WITHIN THE BOUNDERIES THEY IMPOSE UPON US. OFTEN, IF WE ARE BLESSED ENOUGH TO KNOW TO SEEK GOD'S APPROVAL INSTEAD, WE BREAK AWAY FROM THE UNNECESSARY BURDENS. THAT IS IF WE HAVE BEEN INTRODUCED TO GOD'S LOVE FOR US THROUGH HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, JESUS CHRIST. HE LOVED US AND LOVED THE FATHER SO MUCH THAT HE WILLINGLY WENT TO THE CROSS ON OUR BEHALF. THAT ALONE IS ENOUGH TO TEACH US OUR WORTH. AT THAT MOMENT, WE START UNDERSTANDING WHAT WE TRULY MEAN TO HIM: HIM THE FATHER, HIM THE SON, AND HIM THE HOLY SPIRIT; ALL IN ONE. THAT IS OUR IDENTITY. THAT IS OUR SPIRITUAL DNA. IT DOESN'T GET BETTER THAN THAT.

GOD PLANTS ALL KINDS OF LITTLE BLESSINGS INTO OUR LIVES. SOME WE GET TO KEEP; AND SOME HE TAKES BACK. HE IS GOD, AND HE DOES WHAT IS RIGHT ACCORDING TO HIS PLAN AND PURPOSE FOR US. HE HAS NEVER MADE MISTAKES AND HE NEVER 

WILL. EVEN THE PAIN HE CHOOSES FOR US TO WALK THROUGH IS DESIGNED TO GIVE HIM GLORY AT THE END. WE MUST TRUST HIS WAYS, UNCONDITIONALLY, JUST AS HE LOVES US UNCONDITIONALLY.

DO WE REALLY COMPREHEND HIS LOVE FOR US? ARE WE CAPABLE OF SAVOURING IT TO ITS FULLEST EXTENT? CAN WE EXTEND IT TO OUR CHILDREN? WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THEY DISAPPOINT US...OVER AND OVER AGAIN? DO WE NOT HAVE A POINT WHERE WE EXPLODE AND NEED TIME TO CALM DOWN? YET WE DON'T SEE GOD LOSE HIS TEMPER WITH US. HE SIMPLY PUTS US THROUGH ONE MORE TRIAL WHERE OUR FAITH ENDS UP BEING STRETCHED A LITTLE MORE. JUST WHEN WE FEEL LIKE WE CAN'T TAKE ONE MORE STEP, HE SENDS US THE PROPER HELP, THROUGH THE MOST UNEXPECTED WAY. AND WE ARE SURPRISED. YET THROUGH IT ALL, HIS ONLY DESIRE FOR US IS A CLOSER RELATIONSHIP WITH US. HE WANTS US TO WANT THE VERY SAME WITH HIM. HE WANTS US TO DEPEND ON HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS AND NEVER QUESTION HIM. HE WANTS US TO WORSHIP HIM EVEN MORE FERVENTLY DURING EXTREME TRIALS, AND KNOW THAT HE IS THE SOLUTION TO ALL THINGS. IF WE TRULY BELIEVE THAT NOTHING HAPPENS WITHOUT HIS APPROVAL, THEN WE MUST ALSO KNOW THAT COMPLAINING ABOUT SOMETHING SIMPLY MEANS THAT "WE DISAGREE WITH GOD".

THE ENTIRE BIBLE IS ALL ABOUT GOD'S CHARACTER, HIS MERCY, HIS GRACE, HIS PROVISIONS, AND HIS ENABLING US THROUGHOUT LIFE IN EVERY WAY POSSIBLE. WITHOUT HIM, WE AREN'T. WE MAY NOT UNDERSTAND ALL OF HIS WAYS FOR A GOOD REASON. BECAUSE WE CANNOT COMPREHEND ALL THAT HE IS WITH OUR LIMITED WAYS. IN OTHER WORDS, IT IS TO OUR BENEFIT THAT WE DON'T KNOW ALL OF HIS WAYS. WE COULN'T POSSIBLY CONTAIN SUCH RICHNESS. HOWEVER, WE MUST TRUST HIM FOR ALL OF HIS WAYS. THAT'S TRUE FAITH. AND ALSO THAT'S TRUE LOVE: GIVING HIM OUR ALL WITHOUT EXPECTING ANYTHING IN RETURN. THAT'S GOD'S LANGUAGE.

SUCH LOVE IS VIDELY DISPLAYED IN ALL OF HIS CREATION. IF WE'RE SITTING IN A ROOMFUL OF BABIES, AS ONE BABY STARTS CRYING, SURELY ANOTHER WILL FOLLOW. THE APPEARANCE OF A STRAY DOG WILL INSTANTLY GENERATE A LEVEL OF COMPASSION IN OUR LITTLE ONES' HEARTS AND THEY WILL WANT TO SHELTER AND PROTECT IT. AND IF WE ARE BLESSED ENOUGH WITH SUCH CHILDLIKE COMPASSION, WE WON'T BE ABLE TO BITE INTO OUR HAMBURGER AS WE'RE WATCHING A HUNGRY BEGGAR ON THE STREET. WE EVEN SEE SUCH LOVE AND DEVOTION THROUGH A BIRD'S INSTINCT AS IT SHOWS CONCERN WHEN ANOTHER ONE IS DOWN. ALL OF THOSE INSTINCTS ARE ATTRIBUTES OF GOD. THE BIBLE IS ALSO FULL OF EXAMPLES. TO NAME A FEW, PROVERBS 30:25 READS, "ANTS ARE NOT STRONG SPECIES, YET THEY STORE THEIR FOOD IN 

JUST SAVED. WE KNEW A WHOLE LOT LESS, YET WE WERE FAR BETTER WITNESSES THEN. PEOPLE COULD SEE THE RADIANCE OF CHRIST THROUGH OUR EXCITEMENT. WE WERE ABLE TO REFLECT HIM INSTEAD OF SIMPLY SPEAKING ABOUT HIM. IN FACT THE LESS WE ARE, THE GREATER HIS POWER CAN BE SEEN THROUGH US. DEMONSTRATING HIS LOVE IS FAR BETTER WAY OF WITNESSING FOR HIM THAN UTTERING PLAIN WORDS OF KNOWLEDGE. AS A MATTER OF FACT, IF WE ACT A CERTAIN WAY, WE'LL NEVER HAVE THE INFLUENCE AS IF WE WERE A CERTAIN WAY.

WHEN WE BECOME SPIRIT-FILLED PEOPLE, THE SPIRIT DOESN'T JUST CHANGE OUR LIVES, BUT HE ALSO CHANGES THE LIVES OF OTHER PEOPLE CHRIST LOVES THROUGH US. THEREFORE THE WORDS WE SPEAK CARRY A DEEPER MESSAGE, A REVELATION IF YOU WILL, TO THE HEARER; THAT IS, OF COURSE, IF WE WOULD MANAGE TO KEEP THINGS SIMPLE AND ALLOW GOD'S WORD TO STAND OUT. ACTS 10:44 STATES, "WHILE PETER WAS STILL SPEAKING THESE WORDS, THE HOLY SPIRIT CAME ON ALL WHO HEARD THE MESSAGE". IN OTHER WORDS, PETER WAS SPEAKING WHEN THE HOLY SPIRIT TOOK OVER; PETER WAS INTERRUPTED, AND LIVES WERE CHANGES THROUGH THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. AS PEOPLE WERE LISTENING TO PETER'S WORDS, THE UNDERLYING MEANING CAME ALIVE AND GRIPPED THE HEARTS OF THE LISTENERS. WE TOO MUST FOCUS ON NARRATING A CERTAIN EVENT THAT MIGHT HAVE ENCOURAGED US TO BECOME CHRIST-FOLLOWERS, BUT WE DON'T HAVE TO CONVINCE PEOPLE INTO OUR SEQUENCE OF THINKING. GOD'S SPIRIT IS FREE TO MOVE IN ANY SEQUENCE HE SEES FIT.

A BETTER WAY OF DESCRIBING THIS IS TO BE INVISIBLE ENOUGH JUST SO PEOPLE CAN SEE CHRIST THROUGH US. THE DAYS WE'VE HAD A TRUE OR BETTER ENCOUNTER WITH CHRIST, ARE THE DAYS WE WERE ABLE TO SEE PAST THE SPEAKER, PAST THE PREACHER, PAST THE LOCATION, PAST ALL OUR CIRCUMSTANCES. THEREFORE WE OWE IT TO OTHERS AT LEAST THE VERY SAME. ANYONE AND EVERYONE CAN WITNESS ABOUT CHRIST AS LONG AS THE LISTENER IS EXPECTING TO RECEIVE A SOUND MESSAGE FROM GOD. JESUS IS GOD'S WORD. HE IS ALSO THE MANIFESTATION OF GOD'S LOVE FOR US. BEING ABLE TO SEE HIM IS RECEIVING GOD'S UNCONDITIONAL LOVE AS WELL AS THE PLAN OF SALVATION hE BESTOWED UPON US. IN FACT, AS PEOPLE OBSERVE US, THEY MUST BE AMAZED AND PERPLEXED ABOUT THE PECULIAR ABSENCE OF SELF. SUCH QUALITY BECOMES CLEAR UNDER DIFFICULTIES OR UNEXPECTED CIRCUMSTANCES, DURING WHICH OUR TRUE CHARACTER COMES THROUGH. NO BODY IS INTELLIGENT ENOUGH, KNOWLEADGEABLE ENOUGH, OR SMART ENOUGH TO HIDE WHAT'S ON THE INSIDE UNDER PRESSURE. WE CAN NEVER TAME THE TONGUE. ONLY THE HOLY SPIRIT ENABLES US TO MAINTAIN A CONTROLLED LIFE, NO MATTER WHAT THE CIRCUMSTANCE. THEREFORE WE MUSN'T AIM TO HAVE MUCH POLISH, WE MUST SIMPLY AIM TO HAVE MUCH POWER THROUGH GOD'S SPIRIT. JUST REMEMBER, WE GET SAVED BY KNOWING CHRIST. BUT WE SHOW CHRIST BY GETTING TO KNOW HIM BETTER.

THIS HAPPENED TO STEVEN. STEVEN WAS NOT ONE OF THE APOSTLES. HE SIMPLY WORKED AROUND THEM. ONE OF HIS DUTIES WAS TO WAIT ON TABLES, SERVE AND CLEAN AFTER PEOPLE. HE WAS ALSO IN CHARGE OF CARING FOR THE WIDOWS. HE IS NOWHERE ELSE MENTIONED IN THE BIBLE, EXCEPT AFTER WHAT HE ENDED UP DOING. STEVEN'S HEART WAS SO FILLED WITH THE PRECIOUS WORDS SPOKEN AROUND HIM THAT HE COULD NO LONGER KEEP IT TO HIMSELF. HE MAY HAVE BEEN THE LEAST QUALIFIED AT THE TIME, YET GREATER RESULTS CAME FORTH FROM HIS CHILDLIKE BELIEF. HE STARTED DOING WONDERS AND MIRACLES NO ONE WOULD'VE EXPECTED OF HIM AT THE TIME. LISTEN TO WHAT THE BIBLE IS SAYING ABOUT STEVEN IN THE BOOK OF ACTS 6: 8-10, "NOW STEVEN, A MAN FULL OF GOD'S GRACE AND POWER, DID GREAT WONDERS AND MIRACULOUS SIGNS AMONG THE PEOPLE. OPPOSITION AROSE FROM THE SYNAGOGUE... THESE MEN BEGAN TO ARGUE WITH STEVEN, BUT THEY COULD NOT STAND UP AGAINST HIS WISDOM OR THE SPIRIT BY WHOM HE SPOKE". THIS GOES TO SHOW YOU THAT THE PRIMARY DESIRE OF A CHRISTIAN IS TO BE ABLE TO WITNESS FOR CHRIST. THE WORD USED FOR "WITNESS" IN 

SUMMER". PROVERBS 30:27 READS, "LOCUSTS HAVE NO KING, YET THEY ADVANCE TOGETHER IN RANKS". AND PROVERBS 30"28 SAYS, "YOU CAN CATCH A SPIDER WITH YOUR HAND, YET IT IS IN KINGS' PALACES". ALL OF THAT ORDER COMES FROM GOD.

THIS IS HOW APOSTLE PAUL DESCRIBED, "AND THIS IS MY PRAYER: THAT YOUR LOVE MAY ABOUND MORE AND MORE IN KNOWLEDGE AND DEPTH OF INSIGHT, SO THAT YOU MAY BE ABLE TO DISCERN WHAT IS BEST, AND MAY BE PURE AND BLAMELESS UNTIL THE DAY OF CHRIST, FILLED WITH THE FRUIT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT COMES THROUGH JESUS CHRIST -TO THE GLORY AND PRAISE OF GOD". THIS IS THE BIBLICAL DESCRIPTION OF OUR LIVES. PAUL GOES ON AND GIVES MORE DETAILS IN EPHESIANS 1: 4-12, "FOR HE CHOSE US IN HIM BEFORE THE CREATION OF THE WORLD TO BE HOLY AND BLAMELESS IN HIS SIGHT. IN LOVE HE PREDESTINED US TO BE ADOPTED AS HIS SONS THROUGH JESUS CHRIST, IN ACCORDANCE WITH HIS PLEASURE AND WILL- TO THE PRAISE OF HIS GLORIOUS GRACE, WHICH HE HAS FREELY GIVEN US IN THE ONE HE LOVES. IN HIM WE HAVE REDEMPTION THROUGH HIS BLOOD, THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS, IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE RICHES OF GOD'S GRACE THAT HE LAVISHED ON US WITH ALL HIS WISDOM AND UNDERSTANDING. AND HE MADE KNOWN TO US THE MYSTERY OF HIS WILL ACCORDING TO HIS GOOD PLEASURE, WHICH HE PURPOSED IN CHRIST, TO BE PUT INTO EFFECT WHEN THE TIMES WILL HAVE REACHED THEIR FULFILLMENT- TO BRING ALL THINGS IN HEAVEN AND ON EARTH TOGETHER UNDER ONE HEAD, EVEN CHRIST. IN HIM WE WERE CHOSEN, HAVING BEEN PREDESTINED ACCORDING TO THE PLAN OF HIM WHO WORKS OUT EVERYTHING IN CONFORMITY WITH THE PLEASURE OF HIS WILL, IN ORDER THAT WE, WHO WERE THE FIRST TO HOPE IN CHRIST, MIGHT BE FOR THE PRAISE OF HIS GLORY".

IN OTHER WORDS, PAUL WAS SAYING TO US "A LIFE ENJOYED IS A LIFE SHARED". THERE IS NO GREATER PARTNERSHIP. THERE CAN BE NO GREATER JOY THAN THE JOY WE SHARE WHEN WE PRAY FOR ONE ANOTHER. WHATEVER DIFFERENCES WE MAY HAVE HAD IN THE PAST, WHATEVER DIVISIONS MIGHT HAVE EXISTED PRIOR TO US KNEELING BEFORE THE LORD, THEY ARE ALL DISSOLVED AT THE PLACE OF PRAYER. EVEN OUR PERSONAL NEEDS OUGHT TO BE PUT ON HOLD WHEN THE JOY OF BEING ABLE TO HELP SOMEONE ELSE SWEEPS US INTO THAT PLACE OF HOLINESS. WE WHO REMAIN IN CONSTANT COMMUNION WITH GOD ALREADY BELIEVE THAT GOD KNOWS EVERYTHING ABOUT US, AND HE HAS NEVER LET US DOWN. YET WE MAY BE THE ONLY ONE WHO WILL BE WILLING TO SPARE PRECIOUS TIME IN PRAYER FOR A PERSON, OR OUR SELFLESS AND HEARTFELT WORDS MAY BE THAT ONE LAST PRAYER THAT MIGHT OPEN HEAVEN'S GATES FOR THEM. IT IS BECAUSE OF SOMEONE ELSE'S SELFLESS PRAYER THAT GOD TOOK NOTICE OF US IN THE FIRST PLACE. IT WASN'T US WHO WOKE UP SOME MORNING AND DECIDED WE WERE GOING TO SEEK AFTER GOD. SOMEONE HAD PRAYED ON OUR BEHALF AND HAD CAUSED GOD TO REACH DOWN AND TOUCH US. AND BY DOING SO, HE HAD PLANTED A LEVEL OF CURIOSITY AS WELL AS A LEVEL OF RESTLESSNESS INTO OUR HEARTS, CAUSING US TO SEARCH FOR SOMETHING OUTSIDE OUR FAMILIARITIES. HE HAD LED US TO UNDERSTAND HIS WAYS ONE STEP AT A TIME, ONE LESSON AT A TIME. AND HE CONTINUES TO SHOW US HOW DETERMINED HE IS TO BRING US HOME TO ETERNAL FELLOWSHIP WITH HIM. THE LEAST WE CAN DO IS TO BE AVAILABLE FOR OTHERS, AND SHARE WITH THEM EACH LITTLE IMPROVEMENT ABOUT OUR HEAVENLY IDENTITY. AND THAT MIGHT CREATE A CURIOSITY ONLY THE HOLY SPIRIT CAN SATISFY.

WHAT HAVE WE GOT TO LOSE? CHRISTIANITY IS THE ONLY PLACE WHERE TWO EXTREMES COME TOGETHER. WE LEARN AS WE TEACH! IN OTHER WORDS, WE RECIEVE AS WE GIVE. THE VERY MEASURE WE CHOOSE TO EXTEND OUR ABILITIES IN ORDER TO REACH SOMEONE ELSE'S NEED IS THE MEASURE GOD CHOOSES TO FILL US WITH THE MUCH NEEDED STRENGTH AND WISDOM FOR THE TASK. AND THROUGH EACH ATTEMPT, AS LONG AS OUR MOTIVE IS TO BRING GLORY TO GOD'S NAME, OUR FAITH IS STRETCHED, AND SO IS OUR UNDERSTANDING OF GOD'S WAYS. THE ZEAL WE ONCE HAD WHEN WE ACCEPTED JESUS CHRIST AS OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR IS RENEWED EACH TIME GOD GETS TO USE US AS A VESSEL FOR HIS KINGDOM. WE MAKE A DIFFERENCE WITHOUT GETTING IN THE WAY, MEANING HE CHOOSES WHEN AND WHERE HE'LL USE US.

MANY PEOPLE ARE EAGER TO STEP INTO THE MISSIONS FIELD BECAUSE THEY ARE WILLING TO DO GREAT THINGS IN RETURN FOR GOD'S BLESSINGS. THEY FEEL SO FORTUNATE TO HAVE RECEIVED HIS MERCY THAT THEY START OPERATING ON THEIR OWN ACCORD. IT'S ALMOST AS IF THEY COULD RETURN SUCH FAVOR! IN REALITY, IT INSULTS GOD WHEN WE TRY TO PAY FOR HIS BLESSINGS WITH OUR WORKS. WE THEN END 

UP NOT DOING THAT ONE SMALL THING THAT JESUS DEMONSTRATED OVER AND OVER AGAIN: PRAY. AND THAT'S THE ONE THING GOD ACTUALLY REQUIRES FROM US MOST AND FOREMOST. HOW ELSE CAN HE COMMUNICATE WITH US AND TELL US WHAT OUR NEXT STEP WOULD BE? HE WANTS US TO DROP OUR OWN PLANS AND TRY TO CONFORM TO HIS. AFTER ALL, HE IS THE ONE WHO CREATED US, AND OUR ONLY MISSION IN THIS LIFE IS TO FIND THE ONLY WAY THERE IS TO RECONNECT WITH HIM; NOT FORCEFULLY OF COURSE , BUT THROUGH THE WILLINGNESS OF OUR HEARTS.

OFTEN WE ASK GOD TO DO CERTAIN THINGS A CERTAIN WAY IN ORDER TO MAKE OUR CIRCUMSTANCES LITTLE MORE TOLERABLE, IF NOT MORE COMFORTABLE IF YOU WILL. OR WE STOP ASKING THINKING THAT GOD KNOWS ALL OUR CIRCUMSTANCES; HE'S HEARD IT MILLION TIMES. HOWEVER EAITHER APPROACH MISSES THE POINT. THE PURPOSE OF PRAYER IS NOT JUST FOR US TO GET WHAT WE WANT. WHAT MATTERS MOST IS OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD, THROUGH WHICH WE ARE BLESSED IN SUCH A WAY THAT GOD IS HONORED AND GLORIFIED, AND WE GROW SPIRITUALLY. IT IS ALSO A SURE DEMONSTRATION OF THE FACT THAT WE ARE NOT CAPABLE OF FIGHTING OUR OWN BATTLES, NO MATTER HOW SURE WE ACT OR SOUND OF OURSELVES. THE POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING AND THE DEPTH OF THE INNER SELF CAN ONLY GO SO FAR WHEN WE'RE FACE TO FACE WITH A SERIOUS SITUATION. AND THERE ARE SUCH EVENTS THAT WILL CAUSE US TO LOSE OUR TRAIN OF THOUGHT, OUR ABILITY TO RESPOND, OR EVEN COME UP WITH AN APPLICABLE PRAYER. THAT'S WHEN SELF HAS REACHED ITS LIMITS AND THERE NEEDS TO BE SOMETHING OR SOMEONE ELSE WHO OUGHT TO TAKE OVER.

GETTING "SELF" OUT OF THE WAY IS THE ONLY CHALLENGE CHRISTIANITY DEMANDS WHEN ALL OTHER CULT-LIKE RELIGIONS INSIST ON THE DISCOVERY, THEREFORE THE IMPORTANCE OF SELF. IF WE TRULY BELIEVE GOD MADE US AFTER HIS OWN IMAGE, THEN THERE SHOULDN'T BE ANY CONFUSION AS TO WHO WE ARE AND WHAT WE WERE MADE FOR. AND THERE SHOULDN'T BE ANY REASON AS TO WHY WE COULDN'T EXPOSE THIS TO EVERYONE OUT THERE. THE MAIN REASON AS TO WHY THERE IS SO MUCH SUFFERING IS BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE LOST, NOT PHYSICALLY OF COURSE, BUT SPIRITUALLY. THEY'RE IN SEARCH OF.THAT WHICH THEY FIND IT MISSING WITHIN THEIR IDENTITY. AND THAT CAUSES THEM TO GRAB HOLD OF ANY DOCTRINE, TRUE OR FALSE, THAT COULD HELP THEM IN THEIR JOURNEY. AND SINCE THEY DON'T KNOW THE BIBLE WELL ENOUGH, THEY HAVE NO WAY OF VERIFYING THE FOUNDATION OF THEIR NEWFOUND BELIEFS.

THAT'S EXACTLY WHY WE SHOULD OFFER INTERCESSORY PRAYERS AND ASK GOD TO CLEAR AWAY THEIR POLLUTIONS, IT'S ALL ABOUT WINNING ONE SOUL AT A TIME, LIFTING THE HEAVY BURDENS THEY'VE BEEN CARRYING ALL ALONG, AND GIVING THEM THE FREEDOM THEY SO DESERVE AS "A CHILD OF GOD".

THERE ARE TWO PARABLES IN THE BIBLE IN WHICH SOMETHING OF VALUE IS LOST. AND WE UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF SEEKING AFTER THEM SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY ARE MENTIONED IN THE BIBLE. IF THIS IS TRUE ABOUT THINGS THAT ARE LOST, SHOULDN'T IT ALSO BE FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE SPIRITUALLY LOST? THE TERM "LOST" REFERS TO THOSE WHO ARE NOT CHRISTIANS, TO THOSE WHO ARE OUTSIDE OF THE HOUSEHOLD OF GOD, BUT WHOM GOD DESIRES TO COME HOME. SHOULDN'T WE RESPOND TO PEOPLE WHO ARE LOST IN THE SAME WAY, OR EVEN A GREATER WAY THAN WE WOULD TO LOST THINGS? SHOULDN'T WE EXHIBIT THE SAME EFFORTS, AND PERSEVERANCE IN SEARCHING FOR THEM? SHOULDN'T WE BE FILLED WITH JOY AT THEM BEING FOUND? AND LET'S NOT FORGET TO COMPREHEND THE IMPORTANCE OF OUR RESPONSE, AS CHRISTIANS, TO THE FACT THAT THEY'RE LOST. IF GOD RESPONDS A CERTAIN WAY TO THOSE WHO ARE LOST, THEN ISN'T IT OBVIOUS THAT WE AS CHRISTIANS SHOULD SIMPLY FOLLOW HIS EXAMPLE.

THE FIRST THING NEEDED FOR REACHING THE LOST IS COMPASSION. THE PEOPLE JESUS WENT AFTER WEREN'T NECESSARILY AVOIDING HIM, IGNORING HIM, OR EVEN HOSTILE TOWARDS HIM. THE WERE NOT RUNNING AWAY FROM HIM. IN FACT, ACCORDING TO LUKE 15 :1 THEY WERE "GATHERING AROUND TO HEAR HIM". JESUS WASN'T EXACTLY SPEAKING AN EASY MESSAGE THAT TICKLED THEIR EARS. JESUS DIDN'T COMPROMISE ON SIN, NOR DID HE ENCOURAGE THEIR UNACCEPTABLE WAYS OF LIVING. SO WHY DID THE LOST SEEK OUT JESUS RATHER THAN RUN FROM HIM? IT'S BECAUSE JESUS LOVED THEM, AND HE ILLUSTRATED HIS CONCERNS IN A COMPASSIONATE WAY, NOT IN A CONDEMNING WAY. WE TOO HAVE A CHOICE . DO WE RUN TOWARD THE SCENE OF AN ACCIDENT AS A POLICE OFFICER, OR DO WE APPROACH IT AS A PARAMEDIC?

THE SECOND THING NEEDED FOR REACHING THE LOST IS EFFORT. OUR GREATEST EFFORTS ARE ACCOMPLISHED THROUGH FERVENT PRAYERS. WE MUST PRAY IN ORDER TO HAVE ASSIGNMENTS AND THE NECESSARY MEANS TO MINISTER TO THE LOST. CARRYING THEIR BURDENS AS IF THEY WERE OURS TAKES A LOT OUT OF US. WE NEED GOD TO APPOINT US AND ENABLE US TOWARDS THE ONES WHO ARE READY FOR THE HARVEST.

AND THE THIRD THING NEEDED FOR REACHING THE LOST IS PERSISTENCE. IN MANY CASES, IT TAKES YEARS AND YEARS OF PERSISTENCE, WITHOUT FEELING DISCOURAGED, YET FOCUSING ON THE FACT THAT GOD IS PLEASED WITH OUR LOVING ATTITUDE. WE MUST NEVER FORGET THE FACT THAT ALL HEAVEN REJOICES AND THROWS A PARTY WHEN ONE LOST SOUL IS RECOVERED. THERE IS MORE JOY OVER ONE SINNER COMING TO JESUS THAN OVER NINETY-NINE PEOPLE BEING EXACTLY WHERE THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO BE WITH GOD. IF LOST PEOPLE MATTER THIS MUCH TO GOD, SHOULDN'T WE GIVE OUR VERY BEST IN ORDER TO REACH THEM? AFTER ALL, GOD IS THE SUPPLIER OF ALL GOODS. WE SIMPLY HAVE TO DEVELOP A CARING HEART, READY AND WILLING TO BE USED BY HIM.

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