Carrying Them to Jesus

“He’s back!” shouted a voice from outside. A young man jumped to his feet and peered out of his doorway. To his surprise, he saw crowds of people running down the path in front of his house. He turned to his friends inside and without a word, the three young men inside the house rose to their feet and they all headed to the back room.

The men knew that the news of his arrival was spreading quickly. There was no time to lose. The four friends reached down and firmly grasped the bed upon which a fifth friend was lying. Though startled, the infirmed friend did not make a sound for he, too, had heard the commotion outside. He braced himself for the move as his friends began to carry him outside and into the street.

Their destination was not far, just a few houses away, but as more and more people joined the entourage in the street, the journey of these five friends seemed endless. The four men carrying their bed-stricken friend looked at each in desperation. Were they going to make it? Were they going to miss him? In tandem, the men hastened their steps and carefully weaved through the parade down the dusty pathway.

As they reached the house at the end of the path, the men noticed an unusual silence. Though the crowd was great, the typical noise of such a crowd was replaced by the sound of a single voice trickling through the masses and pouring out into the air. Hearing the words spoken by this single voice, the four burdened men felt a resolve as never before to carry their friend to the one speaking. They tried every entryway, each door, each window, but their attempts to enter the house were thwarted. No one in the crowd was willing to sacrifice their position.

All hope seemed lost until one friend had an idea. With the nod of his head, he convinced his friends of the solution. Not once did any one of them raise a question as they maneuvered their infirmed friend onto the roof of the crowded house. Once atop, they set to the task of tearing a hole in the roof large enough to lower the bed through without jeopardizing the safety of their friend. Though difficult, ingenuity and perseverance prevailed. Slowly, the men lowered their paralyzed friend into the house and laid him at the feet of Jesus. The faith of these four men yielded the forgiveness and healing of the fifth and five friends walked away changed forever.

Adobe Spark (26)

There are people all around us who are paralyzed, spiritually and emotionally. Their lives are crippled with fear, with hatred, with regrets. They need healing and restoration but most cannot find their way to the One who can forgive their sins, heal their hearts and save their souls. They cannot find their way to Jesus. They need someone to lead the way. They need someone to carry them.

Do you know someone who needs to be brought to Jesus? Do you know someone who cannot make the journey on their own? Will you carry that one to Jesus today? Are you willing to help that friend, that loved one, that neighbor? Take their hand, help them scoop up the broken pieces of their lives, give them a shoulder to lean on and carry the hurting, the broken, the weary, the lost to the Savior. Your faith can make all the difference.

(Adapted from Mark 2:1-12.)

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A Year of Smiles – Day 251

Reason to SMILE #251: A BLESSED ASSURANCE

Adobe Spark (9)

Irma is headed our way. We’ve filled up the gas tanks and stocked up on non-perishables and water. We’ve rid our yard of any possible projectiles as best we could and we’ve determined the best place to park our vehicles. Mostly, though, we’ve prayed! Oh, how we’ve prayed!

As I’ve been preparing for Irma today, there’s been one song that keeps repeating in my mind. The chorus says, “People get ready. Jesus is coming. Soon we’ll be going home.” (You can listen to the entire song here.) Now, I’m not a doom and gloom kinda person but I guess all the storm prepping has steered my mind toward another event for which we all should be preparing – the day the Lord returns to take His children home.

I know some of you have been thinking of the Lord’s return, as well. I’ve read your posts. Normally, I would have tried to avoid a topic chosen by others but just like the news of the impending storm should be broadcast from every media source available, so also should the news of the Savior’s return be shared by as many of us as possible.

One day the Lord will return. The Bible tells us we won’t know the day or the hour. That means we won’t get several days warning to get our lives in order, to ask forgiveness for our sins and choose to follow Jesus. The time to get ready is now.

“How do you prepare for the Lord’s return?” you ask. Well, it’s easier than preparing for a hurricane, that’s for sure. It’s as simple as A-B-C.

A – Admit that you are a sinner.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 3:23

The wages (payment for) of sin is death…

Romans 6:23a

B – Believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that He died and rose again to pay the price for your sins.

… the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 6:23b

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

C – Commit your life to Christ and Confess your faith to others.

If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation.

‭‭Romans‬ ‭10:9-10‬

I’ve done all I can do to prepare for Hurricane Irma but I’m not certain whether my preparations will be good enough. Storms are unpredictable. Anything could happen. I’ve also prepared myself for the Lord’s return. The good thing is I can know that I will be ready to meet my Savior.

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

‭‭Romans‬ ‭10:13‬

And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

‭‭1 John‬ ‭5:11-13‬

Now that is a certainty- a blessed assurance – that makes me SMILE.

A Year of Smiles – Day 249

Reason to SMILE #249: DETERMINATION

Determination

I received a phone call no parent wants to receive.

“Your child is sick. You may need to take him to the ER.”

I left work for the school but I knew my husband could get there faster. He was closer. I called him knowing the potential for disaster that lay ahead. You see, when it comes to our kids, my husband is extremely protective to say the least, and it’s “no holds barred” when the situation is serious.

My husband arrived at the school. Upon entering the school office, he approached the receptionist who happened to be on the phone, “I need to get my son, Alex. Where is he?”

The receptionist responded by holding up her pointer finger in the air to indicate that my husband needed to wait.

Everything went downhill from there.

My husband was not going to wait. His son was in distress and needed medical attention. He was going to find his child and nothing was going to stop him. After several minutes of school staff trying to stop my husband from entering the building without following protocol and some intense exchange of words, my husband finally caught sight of our son and he was able to calm down – at least a little bit.

Both my husband and I received a phone call the next day from the principal. She made her case for following school protocol and reprimanded my husband for his behavior. I let her speak then calmly explained, ” My husband was told his child needed medical attention. Nothing was going stop him from getting to his son.”

There’s a story in the Bible about a man characterized with the same determination displayed by my husband. His name was Bartimaeus and he was blind. The book of Mark tells us that Bartimaeus was sitting along the roadside as Jesus and the disciples were passing by. Bartimaeus heard that Jesus was near so he began to cry out for mercy. The crowds that had gathered and everyone around Bartimaeus tried to silence him but Bartimaeus continued to seek the Savior’s attention. He had a need and nothing was going to stop him from getting to the Son of God. His determination paid off. Jesus healed Bartimaeus and his life was forever changed.

Is there something in your life that needs the Savior’s attention? Do you need comfort, healing, guidance, wisdom, peace, forgiveness? Cry out to Jesus right now.

The devil will try to silence you. He’ll distract you with temporary solutions and quick fixes. He’ll fill your heart with guilt and shame and tell you that you are not worthy of the Savior’s love. He’ll use your friends and family to tell you everything is fine and your need will handle itself. The devil will successfully keep you quiet, if you let him.

Don’t let him.

If you have a need (and we all have a need!), don’t let anything stop you from getting to Jesus. Don’t let anything silence your cries. Muster up all your determination and cry out even louder. Jesus is near and He will answer.

Oh, and I can’t wait to see your SMILE when He does.

 

A Year of Smiles – Day 216

Reason to SMILE #216: SECURITY

“Ma’am, how am I supposed to know that you weren’t actually trying to brake in to this house?” asked the police officer.

At least, that’s what I imagined he would ask after he arrived at my parents’ house finding me on the front porch while the security alarm wailed. You see, I had only gone to pick up my child who was probably two or three at the time. I knew my parents had taken him out for a while and they hadn’t made it back home. I also knew I would get to their house before they did and I would have to wait on them. I should have waited in the car. Instead, I decided to sit on their front porch.

As I made my way onto the porch, I noticed my parents’ cat looking out of a large picture window. So, I did what any normal person would do. I walked up to the window, bent down to get a closer look, said, “Hello, Cali,” and gently tapped the window at the vicinity of the cat’s face.

Do you know those signs at the pet store that say, “Do not tap glass”? That also applies to any window anywhere through which animals are staring at you from the other side. Just don’t do it. Ever.

As soon as I tapped the glass – and I mean, I barely touched it – the alarm began to blast. I froze. What was I going to do? My parents weren’t home, yet, and I couldn’t get into the house to turn the alarm off. All I could do was sit there listening to the alarm and imagining what I was going to tell the police when they pulled up in the yard.

Fortunately, my parents returned home shortly thereafter and the police were never dispatched. As my parents were unlocking the house, I began explaining how I set off the alarm. “I didn’t know what I was going to do if the police arrived. I didn’t know how I was going to prove my relationship to you and that I belonged here.”

“Karen,” my mom replied as she opened the front door and pointed in the house to the wall directly in front of us, “Your picture is right there as you walk in the door. That’s all the proof they’d need.”

You know, one day we are all going to stand before an even greater authority than our fine men and women in blue. We are all going to stand before our Creator and the question of our belonging in His eternal home is going to be posed. What are you going to do? Are you going to rattle off examples of your good deeds, your acts of charity, your adherence to the Ten Commandments? Are you certain that you will even have a place in Heaven one day?

The Bible tells us that the only way to an eternal home with our Heavenly Father is by faith in His Son Jesus Christ. (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9John 14:6) The Bible also tells us that once we make the decision to become a follower of Jesus by admitting we are sinners and in need of salvation from an eternal death, believing Jesus is the only Son of God and He paid the price for our sins through death on a cross and resurrection from the grave, and confessing our sins and committing our lives to Him, then we can know for sure that we have an eternal home in heaven that no one can question or take away. (John 10:28-29; Romans 8:35-39) And on the day you stand before the throne of God and your belonging is questioned, you won’t have to wonder what you will say. Your Savior will step forward, point to your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life and say, “Yes. she’s mine. See right there. That’s her name!”

I know my eternity is secure. What a SMILE that brings to my soul! What about you? Are you sure of your eternal home?

A Year of Smiles – Day 176

Reason to SMILE #176: GRACE

John 3:16 (NIV) For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.


God’s grace is not restricted to those who are powerful, those who are rich, those who come from the right neighborhood or those who behave a certain way.  God’s grace is freely given to ALL who believe.

So why is the grace we choose to show limited to only a select few?

Knowing that I am loved, forgiven and accepted by God no matter my past, no matter my mistakes and no matter my proclivity for messing up, is the greatest SMILE of all.

Ephesians 2:8 (NIV) For it is by grace you have been saved through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.

Matthew 7:1-2 (ESV) Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.


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A Year of Smiles – Day 158

Reason to SMILE #158: WINNING NUMBERS

55The number of children who attended Vacation Bible School at our church this year.

The number of lives we were able to pour into and connect with.

The number of families represented and opportunities for outreach and prayer.

 

10The number of Bibles given to children who did not own a copy of the Word of God until this week.

The number of hearts that will be opened by the promises of the Heavenly Father and the truth of His Word.

The number of homes that will be illuminated by the message of God’s love.

 

6The number of children who made decisions for God.

The number of lives that will forever be changed by the life-altering truth of the Gospel.

The number of faces glowing because of the victory found in following Jesus.

 

These are the numbers God placed before me and my church.  He asked us to care for, to invest in, to love on and to lift up not only 55 children but also the families they represent.  He asked us to deliver His Word to 10 children who will carry God’s message to their homes and communities.  He asked us to be faithful to share His message of love and salvation and entrusted us with 6 beautiful children to nurture and lead along their journeys of following Jesus.

55 children, 10 Bibles, 6 decisions for God and countless SMILES – what more could a VBS director ask for?