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Mary Loudermilk

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“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8, English Standard Version).

I sat in my usual pew on a recent Sunday morning, joining in worship with my church family. As I sat surrounded by these lovingly familiar faces, my thoughts began to whirl. Questions flooded my mind. Not questions of doubt, but questions of “what if.”

What if

. . . my parents had been non-believers and I’d never been taught about the things of God?
. . . I lived in a part of the world where I was forbidden to worship openly?
. . . I lived where the law forbids owning a Bible?
. . . I’d been born where no one had ever taken the gospel?

Although these questions stirred an overwhelming spirit of thankfulness within me, I also felt sadness. Why?

Because

. . . many children are never taken to church by their parents.
. . . many believers around the world suffer persecution for their beliefs.
. . . some governments ban people from owning a Bible.
. . . untold numbers have still never heard the name of Jesus.

As I mentioned, the two emotions that rolled through my mind were thankfulness and sadness. But a third feeling began to fill my mind as well: responsibility. What does God expect me to do about those who do not enjoy the same freedoms and blessings I have? Does one voice make a difference? What can I personally do to reach those who do not know the Lord?

I can

. . . Pray.

We are instructed to pray for workers in the harvest. So many souls need the truth of God’s Word, but more workers are needed. “Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:37–38, ESV). I can also pray for those who do not have the freedom to worship God

. . . Proclaim.

I may not be a preacher, but I can still tell someone about the Lord. Each of us has a testimony and can tell others what the Lord has done in our lives. And you will say in that day: ‘Give thanks to the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples proclaim that his name is exalted” (Isaiah 12:4, ESV).

. . . Provide Answers.

It may be someone at work or perhaps a neighbor who has questions—and you are the one nearest them with the answers. They long for the peace they see in your life. Allow God to use you. But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (I Peter 3:15, NIV).

. . . Provide Support.

Although I may not be able to travel to the far corners of the world with the gospel, I can support others who do go. God blesses the giver as well as the one who goes. “The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself” (Proverbs 11:25, NJKV).

I really am thankful for God’s mercy in my life, but I want to accept the responsibility of doing whatever possible to see others enjoy this same relationship with Him.

Prayer: Lord, You have promised power to those filled with Your Spirit—power to be witnesses wherever You place us in life. Please use me in whatever way possible to see others become Your disciple.

 

The oppressed and the poor look for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched from thirst. I, the LORD, will respond to their prayers; I, the God of Israel, will not abandon them. I will make streams flow down the slopes and produce springs in the middle of the valleys. I will turn the desert into a pool of water and the arid land into springs” (Isaiah 41:17-18, New English Translation).

When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, he faced a nearly impossible task. While seventy souls entered Egypt, 400 years later the children of Israel numbered possibly two million. Food, water, and shelter for seventy in harsh desert conditions would be challenging, but consider how difficult it would be to provide for hundreds of thousands plus all their animals. It didn’t take long before Moses had some very unhappy, complaining people on his hands. With no water how could they even exist?

“But the people were very thirsty there for water, and they murmured against Moses and said, ‘Why in the world did you bring us up out of Egypt – to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?’” (Exodus 17:3, NET).

It’s easy to complain when we are in a dry, difficult place. We’ve probably all grumbled and whined at some point in our walk with God. Yet good things can happen during a wilderness experience when God is there with us. When the Israelites thought things impossible, God stepped in to supply over and above their needs. He didn’t just provide a trickle of water or even a small stream. What good would that have done for so many people? He made it like rivers flowing in the desert. Psalm 78:15 says:

“He broke open rocks in the wilderness, and gave them enough water to fill the depths of the sea. He caused streams to flow from the rock, and made the water flow like rivers” (NET).

When we feel stranded in a dry, barren place, desperate for answers, He offers hope. God’s Word assures us He will respond to our prayers and will not abandon us in our situation. Don’t despair; rivers can flow in the desert. Trust Him to provide above and beyond every need.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for meeting me in my place of need. When I walk through the wilderness, You are there to guide me and turn my dry desert into a flowing river. You nourish my soul and satisfy my thirst.

 

“For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14, New King James Version).

My friend trusted me with her secret. Because of a family emergency, she left town suddenly. In her rush, she needed someone to pack her apartment so her things could be shipped. She had already enlisted a male friend to help with the furniture, but my job was different. I was to box up her closet and more specifically—her shoes. Her many, many pairs of shoes. Some still lay in the original boxes, never worn. A female friend (especially one who also liked shoes) would understand this mad passion and not reveal just how many boxes were in that closet.

Another friend admitted to hiding new clothes in the back of her closet, tags still dangling. Her rationale was if she let them hang there for a month or two or three, she could truthfully tell her husband she’d “owned” that outfit for quite a while. (Definitely a bit of subterfuge on this one.) If you’re smiling as you read this, you may just love pretty shoes and clothes too.

Both friends told me their secrets because they knew I wouldn’t judge them harshly for their weaknesses. They didn’t need to feel embarrassed to tell me about their shopping obsession. It’s so good when friends understand us and love us. It doesn’t mean we are perfect. Far from it. But they love us and offer us mercy. The same is true with the Lord. As our Creator, He understands our human frailties. He can empathize because He wrapped Himself in flesh and came to earth as one of us. He lived as we live, felt the same emotions, and endured the same temptations we face.

This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most” (Hebrews 4:16-16, New Living Translation).

When we fail, and we will, we don’t need to fear. We can come boldly to the throne of God and receive His mercy. He remembers we are made of dust. He forgives and restores.

Prayer: Thank You so much, Lord, that I can come to You in my time of need. You also walked this earth and understand my weaknesses. I can come to You without fear, seeking Your forgiveness and Your strength. You will help me overcome.