RATS

RATS

Written By: Mike Woodard

“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord.” Psalms 27:13-14, NASB

In a Behavioral Psychology class years ago, I remember hearing about an experiment with rats. The rats were put in a tub where they swam till they were close to drowning and then removed. A short time later they were placed in the tub again. Their survival time increased significantly. Why? It was the hope that they would once again be rescued. Hope is a powerful motivator, even for rats.

In the dark moments of my soul when I feel like I’m going down for the count, I identify with the Psalmist in his despair. A shadowy gloom can lead me to hidden recesses of blackness if left unchecked. But this hopelessness can be replaced by anticipation that there is a good God who will act!

This God who is good also has all power, knows every detail of my life, and loves me with a perfect unconditional love. This confidence in God allows me to lift my head to face the overwhelming dark moments with incredible hope.

Our hope as Christ-followers is not an optimism that the circumstances will necessarily change, but rather a conviction that God will give us the needed resources to walk forward. With this realization, the darkness fades and our hearts take courage in the hope of God’s love and presence.

Dear Father, Thank You for Your goodness, love, presence, and power that brings hope to the despairing and courage to the fearful. I will wait for you. Amen

TAKE ACTION

Read ISAIAH 40 and reflect on the character of God. Release to God any darkness that you feel encroaching on your life or soul. Receive His hope again today.

Mission Impossible

Written by Allan Mitchell

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8

For many Christians, the word evangelism evokes an uncomfortable image of sharing the gospel awkwardly and inadequately to a nonbeliever.

I recall my first evangelism experiences: initially, I confidently and boldly recited the right verses and the right answers. Other times, feeling totally unprepared, I fumbled and mumbled through a rehearsed clichéd script. Mostly, I thought I was on course, but perceived fruitlessness quickly quenched my passion and fire. Consequently, I lost confidence. This mission seemed impossible.

Why would God call, consecrate, and commission us to share our faith, when many believers experience perceived failure and consider it mission: impossible? Often, perception doesn’t reflect reality. Actually, God never asks us to perform a task without empowering and equipping us to accomplish His task. Acts 1:8 assures us that God empowers and equips us for an ongoing mission: sowing and cultivating His gospel in the world.

So, how do we embrace God’s mandate to share our faith authentically, purposely, and effectively with those in our sphere of influence? Although not an exhaustive list, here are a few evangelism essentials I’ve learned: prepare in prayer, rely on the Spirit, avoid Christian jargon, listen intently, exchange life stories, cultivate relationship, avoid criticism, and speak truth in love.

As laborers, believers are responsible to sow and to cultivate, but the Lord Jesus is responsible for the harvest. Now, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to intentionally and faithfully engage in sharing His gospel. Light a match…let the mission begin!

Dear Heavenly Father: Thank You for empowering me and equipping me with Your Holy Spirit. Prepare my heart for intentional outreach to those in my sphere of influence. Give me the courage to persevere and to share about You authentically with a lost and hurting world. Amen.

Take Action

Offer to God any concerns or feelings of inadequacy you may have about sharing your faith with others. Ask God to start building confidence in you as you depend on Him and start taking risks to share your faith.

If evangelism feels like a burden, make sure to watch Relax! Witnessing is Not All About You. We’ve also discovered a great book on how to have spiritual conversations: God Space by Doug Pollock.

What’s one thing you find hard about witnessing? Please post a comment. Then we get to encourage one another!


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