Monday, May 29, 2017

Bring Your Friends to Jesus

You may have made sacrifices in your life to help others have life’s necessities, an education, or better opportunities. They are all worthy sacrifices, but the ultimate sacrifice is made when we step out in faith to bring another to Jesus. Mark tells us of four friends who did not allow seemingly insurmountable obstacles to prevent them from bringing their friend to Jesus. Mark 2:1-12 .

Four men watched as their quadriplegic friend lay immobile, destined to a life of physical infirmity. The men developed an irrepressible commitment to their friend. They purposed to bring him to Jesus on a stretcher. The day they did, the crowds were alarmingly large and aggressive. No one would give up his place near Jesus so the men could bring their friend to the front to be healed. This did not dissuade these men. They did not stop in the face of impossible circumstances.

Because the stakes were so great, the four persisted. They had committed to bringing their friend to the Lord, and they did not waver in that commitment. They climbed onto the roof of the building where Jesus spoke, dug a hole, and lowered their friend down to Jesus.

What struck Jesus first was not the man’s paralysis but rather his friends’ faith. They could not heal the man physically or convert him spiritually, but they had an undaunted faith that Jesus could. The men believed that if they could just bring him into the presence of Jesus that He would do the rest--and Jesus honored that faith.

Jesus’ first move was not to heal the man’s paralysis. Instead, He addressed the man’s spiritual condition by forgiving his sins--a far greater need. Not only did the man walk out of the house healed physically, Jesus saved him from eternal death and gave him eternal life. His friends could not have given him a greater gift.

Often, we are satisfied if our families and closest friends are saved. It should not stop there. The paralytic may have been a neighbor, a former co-worker, or a family friend. Like these men, when God brings people into our lives and places their unsaved condition on our hearts, we can trust Him to honor our faith. Our only task is to bring them to Him. They may have no faith at all, but God will honor our faith.

Is there someone in your life who is unsaved? Are you committed to bringing that person to Jesus? You may have tried in the past with no results. George Mueller prayed for some people for 23 years before they were saved. Will you commit to praying with renewed commitment for them? Do you need to invite them to church or a small group?

Pray today that God will give you undaunted faith that your friend will surely come to know the Lord. Then be obedient to do your part to bring them before Jesus.

Dr. Michael Youssef

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Shield of Faith

No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. -- C.S. Lewis

“We have an issue with the blood test. We are sending it to the lab,” he said.

“What is it?” I asked.

“Either mono or leukemia,” he said.

For twelve days, my prayer life went through the roof, as I struggled to find stability in a situation where I had no control, no certainty, and nothing on earth that could contain my fear. There was nowhere I could put my trust and expect return. Over and over I begged Jesus to do something, that He would be enough for me, that He would heal my heart as it was constantly being crushed with worry.

It was my son’s blood that was in question, after all. Our elementary-aged Cameron. His life was teetering on the brink of the unknown and there was nothing I could do about it.

Well, maybe one thing:

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. --Colossians 2:6-7

God has given us a shield of faith, a defense against the flaming arrows of fear and doubt. Again and again we must lift it up to protect our hearts and minds. During those two weeks I was suspended in the fog of uncertainty and fear. During those days I learned to pray, “Jesus, I trust You with the next 30 minutes. I know a whole bunch of stuff is going to happen, and I give it to you.” 31 minutes later I’d add, “Jesus I give you the next 30 minutes....”

It’s not always easy to do. Sometimes, big problems affect my concentration. Sometimes I can’t even focus on the words I’m reading in my Bible. Instead of just fighting through it, I’ll take out my journal and I’ll write my thoughts down so I can capture them on the page and take them to Christ. “All right, Jesus, here’s what I’m scared of, worried about, concerned about, what needs to be fixed.” At the end I say, “Jesus, I’m officially giving this stuff to You. Be enough for me and take away my worry. Your will be done.”

After twelve days, Cameron’s blood showed that he had mono instead of leukemia. While we were hugely relieved, I learned again what it means to be fully honest with God, emotional with God, surrendered to God, resting in God.

Satan’s arrows will come. He HAS given you the shield of faith. Will you raise it over your heart and mind today?

Lord, many are saying of my soul, “There is no deliverance for him in God.” But You, O LORD, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head. I am crying to You, the LORD, with my voice. You have answered me from Your holy mountain. Selah. (from Psalm 3:3-4)