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How I Received My Life Verse

I was a senior in high school when my 14-year-old sister was diagnosed with leukemia. It was a hard time for our family. Mom spent weeks with my sister at Kansas University Medical Center, three hours away, while Dad continued to work. Our grandma stayed at our house to make dinner and keep up with the laundry, trying for some normalcy in the midst of the chaos.

A year and a half later, my sister died from pneumonia because of her weakened immune system from the leukemia. What love and support my parents received from the doctors and nurses during those long months! What love and support we received back home from our church family!

We were members of Bethany Lutheran Church, but our pastor had taken a call to a new congregation and had already moved. Who would do the funeral service? Friends of my parents recommended Pastor John from another Lutheran church in our city.

Pastor John didn’t know our family. Pastor John didn’t know my sister, but Pastor John was a parent who understood our loss, and he was a man filled with the Holy Spirit. Pastor John came to our home and spent time listening to our stories, learning about my sister, her faith, and the faith of my parents. 

I don’t remember a lot about the day of the funeral, but I have always remembered Pastor John’s words during the service — “Fear not, only believe!” Later, I learned the Bible story in Mark 5:36b from where those words came. It was the story of a man named Jairus, his faith, and the trust he had in Jesus.

Those words, “Fear not, only believe,” spoke deep into my heart and changed my life forever. I became a more faith-filled child of God. I was able to trust Him in the midst of all situations, good or bad, and there have been many of both in my life. That doesn’t mean that I never have doubts or fears. In spite of frustrations, I have always felt a peace deep inside, knowing that God has every situation in His capable hands. My response as His precious daughter is to fear not and just believe. 

Pastor John became a very close friend of my parents. Several years ago, I saw Pastor John and I had the opportunity to remind him of that day so long ago. I was able to tell him that his words, inspired by God’s Word, had set the course for my life. Fear not; only believe; God is in control!

Devotion

Read the story of Jairus and his daughter in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 5, beginning at verse 21. There is another woman, unrelated to Jairus, included in this story. Her actions also showed faith.

Do you have a Scripture verse or two that give you strength when life is difficult? 

Has a pastor or other mentor been a strong guiding influence in your life? Contact him/her and acknowledge that blessing. 

Prayer

Heavenly Father, how wonderful it is to know that You are the God of love and peace, that You are there to guide and support us during the hard times, the good times, and the great times. Thank You for the pastors You place in our lives to teach us from Your Scriptures the lessons that seem so simple but have so much impact. May we continue to grow in faith as we study Your Word, finding those precious nuggets of wisdom that You have placed there, like “Do not fear, only believe.” In Jesus’ precious name. Amen.

Karen Morrison
Kansas District

Sandwich Love

homeless man eating a sandwich

In June of 2017 I attended the LWML Mid-South District Convention in El Dorado, Arkansas. One day, during our lunch recess, my roommate and I were enjoying a stroll through the streets of this quaint town. We encountered a man who was obviously down on his luck. He approached us and asked if we could spare him money for a meal. He shared some of his story with us – that he was fighting addiction and living in a shelter.

As it happened we were right in front of a sandwich shop. Realizing that here we were, two LWML ladies attending a district convention, I sure wasn’t going to ignore the man! We went into the sandwich shop and ordered him some lunch. The really sad thing was that it was apparent the proprietor of the shop had probably just told the man to go away. I maintained as friendly an attitude as possible while taking care of the lunch order. Who knows, maybe that man shows up every single day asking for food or solicits customers coming into the shop. Maybe the proprietor had reason to rebuff the man. All I know is he was hungry and we happened to be there.

So, why did God put this man in our path? Did he need us or did the proprietor need to be reminded to feed the hungry? I’ve come to realize that we all stereotype people, judge them, and fill in missing facts based on our experience. But, is that what God tells us to do? Nope, He simply says “love your neighbor”.  If that means buying a sandwich for someone “for no reason”, I know I can handle it.

Devotion

And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions (Mark 12:32–34).

How often do our own “burnt offerings and sacrifices” get in the way of what God really wants from us? We hear Him calling us to reach out to a hurting neighbor or to call a friend who has been absent from church for far too long. But what do we do instead? Oh, we do our “good deeds”. We drop off clothes at the resale store and collect canned goods for the food pantry. Easy, right? It’s not that God doesn’t want us to do those things too. But, He wants us to love PEOPLE – His very own children – people who have names and faces and are created in His image. Sometimes that means getting out of our comfort zone and facing those very people, even when we don’t know their names, or circumstances or history or religious affiliation. We see their faces and their faces should look like God himself to us. How then can we NOT reach out to them?

Prayer

Dear Father in Heaven, please forgive me for the times when I have looked away or ignored one of Your children in need. I pray the Holy Spirit will encourage me and make me bold and to see Your face in every face I meet. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

Candy Habich
Mid-South District

We would love to hear YOUR stories! Please send them our way at depgo@lwml.org.

Thanks from the Gospel Outreach Committee!

Mission Work at Any Age

elderly men and women conversing in a assisted living facility

As my husband’s parents got older with many health issues, the family decided that they would be better off in an assisted living facility.

Leo, who was in his 90’s, wondered what he could do as he spent his time at the facility. He had always been very active in church. He decided to make it his mission to share his Lord with anyone and everyone that lived there. He quickly learned each and everyone's name. At meal times, he would sit at a different table each time. As the first course was being served, he would ask if he could bless the food. Some people were so uncomfortable about him saying a prayer that they would not let him sit at their table any more. That didn't stop him; he continued to say a table prayer at each meal.

As time went on, he decided he wanted to do more. He wanted to start a Bible class but felt he wasn't good enough to lead it. Leo kept telling me that he was not a teacher. I encouraged him, and even helped him plan his first few lessons. He soon found that the Lord was indeed blessing his work and he enjoyed preparing and teaching the group. He was able to share the Word for many years at the facility.

After Leo received his Crown of Glory last August, the facility director visited Leo’s pastor. She asked if there was someone who could continue the class because it was a highlight in the residents’ week. What a wonderful legacy Leo left all his friends and neighbors.

Devotion:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16).

It is almost certain that Leo was placed in that assisted living facility to share the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ with his neighbors and friends. Just because he was reaching the end of his life, he still had things to do to praise his Heavenly Father. At first, he felt unprepared, but the Holy Spirit was there to help him share the Word of God. Not only was it a blessing to those who joined Leo each week for Bible study but it blessed Leo’s life as well.

Do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour (Matthew 10:19).

Prayer:

Dear Father in Heaven, thank you for people like Leo who use whatever their situation in life to give You thanks and praise and further the spread Your Gospel. Thank You for the Word that proclaims salvation to all who believe and the Holy Spirit who guides us and provides the words that we can use to tell others of your great mercy. Continue to give us opportunities to share Your great love with others. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

Nancy Pendleton
Pacific Southwest District

We would love to hear YOUR stories! Please send them our way at depgo@lwml.org.

Thanks from the Gospel Outreach Committee!

Let Your Light Shine before Others

flying dove in the sunlight

Years ago at a National Convention, the Bible Study Leader had us compose our own personal mission statement. I chose the Bible verse from Matthew 5:16,

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Recently my husband was in intensive care for two weeks in Springfield, Missouri. One of the doctors was an intelligent but stern doctor. He had an exemplary medical team and he observed my interaction with the medical team. The nurse in charge asked to pray with me which was a witness for both myself and her. Before running a test on my husband, the doctor looked right at me and said, “Keep praying, there is still hope.” When I came back to the Comfort Care Unit, the next day, the same doctor came into the room, observed my husband and commented, “He is so calm and peaceful.” I replied to the doctor, “You and your medical team did everything you could. We are praying that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit would take him to heaven.” Within 24 hours my husband’s soul went to Heaven and his body died. I called my pastor to let him know that my husband went to be with our Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

I was thankful that I was able to share my faith with the medical staff and they were able to share their faith with me.

Devotion:

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me, shall never die. Do you believe this? She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world” (John 11:25–27).

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).

 In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also (John 14:2–3).

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You for this day and for sending us the Holy Spirit who guides our ways, and comforts us in time of need. Thank You for sending Your Son who is our resurrection and life. Thank you for placing people into our lives who believe in Him and can speak the comforting words of eternal life. Thank You for giving us this assurance. In Jesus’ precious name we pray. Amen.

Mary Turno
MN South District

We would love to hear YOUR stories! Please send them our way at depgo@lwml.org.

Thanks from the Gospel Outreach Committee!

Airport Opportunity

woman checking in at airport

As I was travelling home from the LWML Interdepartmental Meeting in St. Louis, I had quite a long layover in Atlanta. I passed some of the time by just walking up and down the length of the terminal. At some point, I passed a woman going the opposite direction and she was absolutely sobbing. Now that’s pretty hard to ignore. Yet, everyone was ignoring her. And, I was trying really hard to do the same. But, I just knew the Holy Spirit was prodding me to see if she needed someone. And, besides, hadn’t I just spent a full four days at an LWML meeting talking about Gospel Outreach?

So, I turned around and tried to catch up with her. At one point I thought she had disappeared, but fortunately I spotted her at an airline counter where they help you with flight problems. I waited patiently as she explained her problem to the airline person. I gathered that she’d been flying all day and had perhaps missed a connecting flight. At least the airline person was compassionate and had a calming influence.

Once the woman left the counter I approached her and asked if there was anything at all I could do for her. She shared with me that her grandmother was ill and she was worried about getting to see her. She had calmed down considerably at this point and said she just needed some rest. I walked a little way with her and repeated my offer to stay with her. She declined my offer so I promised to pray for her grandmother and went on my way. I am confident the woman made it to her grandmother’s side and often say a prayer that they are both well. I am so thankful that the Holy Spirit led me to reach out to that woman. My prayer is that next time I won’t hesitate, not even for a second!

Devotion

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves (Philippians 2:1–3).

These words from Saint Paul’s letter to the Philippians are pretty straightforward. They are sort of the “just do it” words of that time. The admonition to “do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit” hit the nail on the head. Sometimes we need to question our motives, don’t we? On the other hand, that same “conceit” can occur from a different angle. What about times when we might not want to “stand out” or look like a “goody-two-shoes”? Perhaps as in the story above, because the distraught woman was making a scene of sorts, it would be easy to not want to be associated with her. Feelings of embarrassment might plague us when attending to a homeless person or a mentally unstable person. That’s when we need to be reminded that the only thing that matters is doing what God’s will is for us.

Prayer

Dear Father in Heaven, please continually remind me that I need to focus on You and Your will for my life. If death has no power over me then certainly no man has power over me. Show me the people that need me, lead me to them, and give me the courage to serve them. In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

Candy Habich
Mid-South District

We would love to hear YOUR stories! Please send them our way at depgo@lwml.org.

Thanks from the Gospel Outreach Committee!

Peace, Hope and Comfort

woman sitting on hill, watching sunrise

A while back, my husband and I began trying for our second child. Our son was two and we wanted to grow our family. After a year of trying, we learned I was finally pregnant again. We were so excited!

At sixteen weeks gestation, God called our child home. Though we grieved the loss, God also gave us a peace that I cannot explain and a confidence knowing our child and our family were in His hands. The day after I came home from the hospital from having a D&C, I received a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a little stuffed tiger for our son from my co-workers. I found out that it was my co-worker, Heather who had organized the gift on behalf of my department. Heather had also recently had a miscarriage. I knew that she attended the local Baptist church.

When I returned to work, I thanked my co-workers for their thoughtfulness. I then sent a special email to Heather. I thanked her personally and also shared my faith. I valued the bond we shared both in our experience and in the knowledge that God is in control and that our children were together in Heaven in our Savior’s arms. I shared the peace and comfort it brought. What I didn’t know at the time was that Heather did not have peace and was struggling with her miscarriage. She was angry with God and very bitter. She had stopped going to church.

A few weeks later, Heather thanked me for my email. God used that witness to soften her heart. She let go of her bitterness and returned to church. She shared that she finally felt at peace and she was no longer afraid to try to have another baby.

Praise God that my husband and I were later blessed with another healthy baby boy, and Heather and her husband have two more beautiful daughters!

Devotion

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope (Romans15:13).

I am so grateful to God for our child in heaven and for blessing my life through my miscarriage. It allowed me to share my faith with other women in ways I could never have imagined!  God used me to share His peace, hope and comfort with my co-worker, Heather. Praise be to Christ!!

Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for all the blessings you have given me especially the peace, hope and comfort that comes from knowing my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Thank You also for those people that You put in my path, which give me an opportunity to witness and share my faith. Always remind me through Your Word, that You are always with me, and that 1you will strengthen me and give me rest from the brokenness of this world. Continue to guide me as I care for my family, friends and neighbors. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Gretchen Rasmussen
Iowa East District

We would love to hear YOUR stories! Please send them our way at depgo@lwml.org.

Thanks from the Gospel Outreach Committee!

God Guides and Provides

women at a Bible study

Rachel fumbled the maroon covered Bible in her hands and with a look of confusion on her face said, "Wait. Where now?"

"Luke 11, verse 2," Pastor repeated.

She flipped the pages through her fingers several times and said, "These are all mixed up".

I set my own Bible aside and vacated the overstuffed chair. I asked, "Rachel, can I help you?" She was a new addition to our Bible study, a young woman in her early twenties looking for a church home. She tucked her medium length black hair behind her ear before handing me her Bible.

"The Bible is divided into two parts—the Old Testament and the New Testament and the New Testament starts with the four gospels. Luke is one of the gospels. See, here it is,” I informed her. I pointed to the upper left corner before handing the Bible back to her.

She said, "Thanks. I didn't know," and She tried to hide her nervousness with a laugh. I took my seat again, locating the passage myself, before glancing over at Rachel. Her brown eyes appeared blank and she pushed the black framed glasses up on her nose as she whispered, "Debbi, mine doesn't have any chapters."

"Rachel, the big numbers are the chapters and the small numbers are the verses." The blank eyes changed to a sparkle and she expressed another nervous laugh as she said, "Oh, I see. I didn't know."

I responded, "That's okay, that's how we learn."

I continued to help her through Bible study, letting her find the books with some well worded clues from me. Joy covered her face each time she succeeded and that nervous laughter changed to laughs of triumph. As I watched her, a wave of sadness overcame me. This is America, a land founded on religious freedom, and here was a young woman who had not been exposed to God's Word. Her numerous questions covered a range of topics—the Ten Commandments, baptism, communion, crucifixion, resurrection.

I left Bible study that night, waving to Rachel as she climbed into the passenger side of her grandmother's rusty four-door sedan. "See you next week," she hollered to me.

My thoughts drifted back to Rachel many times that week so I took the opportunity to swing into the Bethesda thrift shop before we convened again. The used books had been neatly organized on shelves that reached three quarters of the way to the ceiling. The "Religious" label had been thumb tacked to a shelf located beside a silver haired man who sorted books from the top of a dark gray industrial cart. I found the Bibles on the second shelf down and selected one that still appeared to have the binding in decent shape. I pulled it out and vetoed it quickly. The corner of the cover was missing. I selected another and sighed—missing pages. The next one, marked up like a college textbook, left no room for Rachel to make her own notes in the margin. One by one, I inspected the Bibles and returned each one to their designated space.

"Is this all of the Bibles?" I asked the gentleman.

"Let me check in the back for you," he replied before disappearing. When he returned, he pushed a shorter stainless steel cart and smiled. "These may be more to your liking."

I picked one off the stack, but it had been the one underneath that commanded my attention. The gold lettering on the black cover looked as though it had just been embossed. I set down the one I held and opened the cover, gliding my fingers over the pages. I'm not sure it's cover had ever been opened. Someone else's loss would be Rachel's gain.

In the next aisle, I overheard a conversation about the Christian Women Luncheons that took place once upon a time in Green Bay. I enjoyed the events and had been disappointed when word came that they would be cancelled. I stepped around the corner to see if I knew the women and came face to face with the two of them. I said to them, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to eavesdrop, but I used to attend those luncheons. My friend, Irene, who helped with them, invited me."

"Irene? She is a lovely lady,” they said. We conversed about our mutual acquaintance and the luncheons before one of them noted the Bible in my hand.

"Yes, I am getting this for a young lady in Bible study who is in need of a little guidance. She has very limited, if any, knowledge of the Bible—how it is laid out, what it says, etcetera," I shared.

One of the women started digging in her oversize handbag. "I think I have just what you need," she said as she handed me a book mark listing the layout of the Bible—Law, History, Prophets, Gospels, Epistles and so on. I hugged her as I said a prayer thanking God for His divine intervention.

Sunday morning, I spied Rachel at church. "Hey, I have something for you," I said as I pulled the Bible out of my bag and handed it to her.

Her brown eyes widened and she ran her fingertips over the cover. "I never had my own Bible," she said, as she hugged me.

Devotion:

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8)

We all know this was no coincidence. God provided me the opportunity to share the Gospel with the help of the Holy Spirit. I'm not a teacher or a theologian, but somehow - this young lady attached herself to me and I knew I needed to guide her in God's Word. Providing it to her is only the beginning of God’s plan in her life.

Prayer:

Father in Heaven, thank You for guiding me and providing me with the tools I need to share Your Word. I ask for direction as I help guide this young lady in her desire to know You. Continue to bless me with eyes to see You in all I do and say. Amen.

Deborah Young
North Wisconsin

We would love to hear YOUR stories! Please send them our way at depgo@lwml.org.

Thanks from the Gospel Outreach Committee!

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