The Empty Bed

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. (Matthew 28:19) 
I was eager to return to St. James Infirmary in Montego Bay, Jamaica, and reconnect with Rendell, who two years earlier had learned about Jesus’s love for him. Evie, a teenager in the high school choir I travel with each spring, had read Scripture with Rendell and explained the gospel, and he personally received Jesus as his Savior. 
When I entered the men’s section of the home and looked toward Rendell’s bed, however, I found it was empty. I went to the nurse’s station, and was told what I didn’t want to hear. He had passed away—just five days before we arrived. 
Through tears, I texted Evie the sad news. Her response was simple: “Rendell is celebrating with Jesus.” Later she said, “It’s a good thing we told him about Jesus when we did.” 
Her words reminded me of the importance of being ready to lovingly share with others the hope we have in Christ. No, it’s not always easy to proclaim the gospel message about the One who will be with us always (Matthew 28:20), but when we think about the difference it made for us and for people like Rendell, perhaps we’ll be encouraged to be even more ready to “make disciples” wherever we go (v. 19). 
I’ll never forget the sadness of seeing that empty bed—and also the joy of knowing what a difference one faithful teen made in Rendell’s forever life. 
What are some things you can do to introduce people to Jesus today? As you share your faith, how does it encourage you to know Jesus is “with you always” (Matthew 28:20)? 
As I started reading this devotion I felt a nudge in my spirit to post it. At first I thought to myself, it’s so late in the day, I’ll wait until tomorrow but we may not have tomorrow. There may be someone in your path at this very moment that needs to be introduced to Jesus. I pray this encourages you to share Jesus with someone today. What a difference you can make in someone’s forever life. 
God, we know that people need You. Help us to overcome our fear of telling others about You. Amen. 
Have a beautiful and uplifting day in The Lord! 
Today’s Reading is Philippians 4:7 

Get in the Ark

And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die. But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives with thee. And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female. Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive. (Genesis 6:17-20)  
The parallel of the story of Noah’s ark and our lives today is closer than we may realize. The people in Noah’s day were living for their own pleasures and chose not to follow God. The Bible says they were selfish and eating, drinking and giving to marriage. As Noah worked on the ark, he witnessed to the people and told them of what was coming. They did not believe him. I can only imagine the mockery and ridicule that Noah endured as he worked on the ark. Why would a guy build a boat when it had never rained on the earth? Because God said so and Noah believed God. 
Over a hundred years later (about 120), the ark was finished and God called Noah’s family and the animals into the ark and shut the door. They were saved from the destruction that was coming. They were safe in God’s arms. Today, we live in a world that resembles the days of Noah. Man is selfish, wicked and living life without much thought to what the Bible says is coming. We are told that one day Jesus Christ will return and the world as we know it will be burned up, utterly destroyed. The only hope we have is in the One who is coming to save us…Jesus Christ. Jesus is our Ark. For all who enter into His ark will be saved. All we have to do is believe that Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for our sins and to invite Him into our hearts to save us. 
There are many “Noah’s” today preaching the gospel and telling people to repent because one day Jesus is coming back. How many will be saved when destruction finally comes? Only the Lord knows when that day will be, but let’s pray for a sense of urgency for those who have not yet entered into the Ark -a relationship with Christ. Pray to be a witness…pray that you those closest to you are safe in God’s arms. 
Wow! This blessed me. What truth! In the day and time we live we must take what time we have left just as serious as Noah did. God is calling each and every one of us to be a Noah. Let’s not pass up any more opportunities to share the gospel and the salvation message. We have the honor and privilege of sharing His message by the power of the Holy Spirit. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. (Joshua 1:9) Get in The Ark! 
Have a beautiful day in The Lord! 
Today’s Reading is 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

The Power of Simple Words

For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. (2 Peter 1:16)

Raucous laughter marked the guests in my father’s hospital room: Two old truck drivers, one former country/western singer, one craftsman, two women from neighboring farms, and me. 

“…and then he got up and busted the bottle over my head,” the craftsman said, finishing his story about a bar fight.

The room bursts into laughter at this now-humorous memory. Dad, struggling for breath as his laughing fought with his cancer for the air in his lungs, puffs out a reminder to everybody that “Randy is a preacher” so they need to watch what they say. Everything got quiet for about two seconds, then the whole room exploded as this news makes them laugh harder and louder. 

Suddenly, about forty minutes into this visit, the craftsman clears his throat, turns to my dad, and gets serious. “No more drinking and bar fights for me, Howard. Those days are behind me. Now I have a different reason to live. I want to tell you about my Savior.”

He then proceeded to do just that, over my father’s surprisingly mild protests.  If there’s a sweeter, gentler way to present the gospel message, I’ve never heard it. 

My dad listened and watched, and some years later believed in Jesus too.

It was a simple testimony from an old friend living a simple life, reminding me again that simple isn’t naïve or stupid; it’s direct and unpretentious.

Just like Jesus. And salvation. 

As I read this I struggled with even sharing it because to some it may come across a bit rough around the edges but I kept coming back to it with the thought that this is reality for many people and there past but what is wonderfully amazing is that once we turn our lives over to Christ we all have a simple testimony to share with an old friend from our past. We truly have a different reason to live. May we share our testimony with someone today, no matter how dark your past was, let us present the gospel message today to someone in need. Is there someone in your life who could hear a simple testimony from an old friend living a simple life?

Have a wonderful day in The Lord!

Today’s Reading is 2 Peter 1:12-21