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The Lord Will Provide

Hands sharing a bowl of soup with someone

Recently, I was loading my groceries into the trunk of my car when a man approached and offered to take my buggy back to the store. I thanked him for that but he seemed to linger just a moment. I was pretty sure he was going to ask me for money, which is exactly what he did. Being that it was just about noon and there was a sandwich store about twenty feet away, I asked if I could buy him lunch instead. He was quite agreeable to that so off we went.

While waiting for his sandwich to be prepared I had some time to ask him about his situation. He had left a small town in Georgia where employment was scarce. I’m not sure how he landed in east Tennessee but I don’t suppose that’s important. The man said he had an interview in a couple of days at the grocery store that I’d just left. Meanwhile, there was no room at the Salvation Army so he was sleeping in a tent. His bicycle was his only form of transportation. I wish I’d thought to ask if that was how he got from Georgia to Tennessee! What struck me was how relaxed the man seemed. He didn’t seem anxious or worried. He just mentioned that he wasn’t sure how he’d manage to eat until he had a job. At that point, the words “the Lord will provide” just came out of my mouth. I believe that was the Holy Spirit answering my prayer before I even had a chance to speak it!

As we left the sandwich shop I explained that I kept “blessing bags” in my car and would get one for him. It contained snacks and a fast-food gift card among other things. Then, right there in the parking lot, I said a prayer for him and asked if he knew Jesus as his Lord and Savior. He said he did which I was very happy to hear. I certainly hope and pray that the next time I go grocery shopping I’ll see him at work there! Meanwhile, I’m counting on the promise that “the Lord will provide”.

Devotion:

And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” (Genesis 22:13–14).

Of course this verse from Genesis is what prompted me to tell the homeless man “the Lord will provide”. But, in a way, I think the Lord provided me with a few things during this encounter as well. Over the last several months I’ve been more deliberate about asking God to put people in my path and to give me the courage and wisdom to be a witness to them. I thank God for allowing me the opportunity to serve a brother in Christ through the simple act of buying his lunch and saying a prayer with him.

Prayer:

Dear God, please give us the boldness to not only provide for the physical needs of those you put in our path but also for their spiritual needs. Father, give us the right words at the right time to allow us to share your saving grace with those around us. 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!

Lessons with Shirley

woman praying with sunset in background

About a year and a half ago my stepson and his wife were visiting. We’ve had a more or less on-again, off-again relationship over the years, but this particular visit had gone well. Toward the end of the week, Shirley and I were talking late one night after everyone else had gone to bed. We started talking about parenting and then about our own childhood experiences. I knew Shirley’s mother had struggled with substance abuse and with maintaining stable relationships. However, the story that tumbled out was one of a young girl living in far more difficult circumstances than I would have imagined, one who had been on her own since her early teen years.

Jesus had been calling Shirley through a number of people that year, and she told me that she was going to start reading the Bible after the holidays. We live 2000 miles apart, but for some reason I felt prompted to ask her if she wanted to read it with me. Initially, I really had no idea how we’d make that work or how effective it would be.  I remembered a pastor telling me the best place for someone seeking to learn the story was the book of Mark. So that’s where I suggested we begin.

We’ve been texting five days a week, sharing what we find to be most significant in the chapter we are reading. I have provided a good deal of back story and explanations. We’ve read the Gospels, Acts, the Epistles, Jonah, Ruth, selected stories from the Old Testament and a number of Psalms. We’ve shared thoughts on devotional books, movies, and songs. Shirley’s husband and mine also started studying together long distance.

Shortly after we started reading, Shirley and her husband began to seriously look for a church in which they both felt comfortable. God led them to a church that welcomed them and their extended family with open arms.

Seven grandchildren have been baptized and regularly attend Sunday school. The oldest granddaughter is now attending confirmation class which resulted in her father changing the direction of his spiritual life and joining the church this past Easter Sunday.  So much has blossomed from such a tiny mustard seed of discussion on that November night.

Devotion:

God has decided that, as imperfect as we think it seems to be, we are the delivery system for the news of His salvation. Each of us is exactly where He wants us to be. God wants us to take the risk, walk through the doors He opens for us, and Tell the Story.

but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:6-7).

Prayer:

Dear Savior, help us to not only be aware of, but to actively look for the opportunities You place before us, and then embolden us to take advantage of them. Our hurting world is so in need of the message of hope and salvation. Let us be like the early apostles in the book of Acts and “turn the world upside down” with the life changing story we have to tell.

Pat Falkenhagen
North Wisconsin District

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

Thanks from the Gospel Outreach Committee!

Out of the Mouths of Babes

woman praying with sunset in background

One morning I was at the store picking up a few items I needed for the day. I had my two grandsons with me. As I walked through the produce section, I met an acquaintance I had not seen in a while. We exchanged hellos. She then asked my grandson what his name was. He responded, “My name is Jax.” She then asked him if he went to school. He replied, “I go to Yuma Lutheran School and I am in the first grade.” Then she asked my younger grandson what his name was. He quickly ducked his head behind his big brother. Jax spoke up and said, “This is my brother, Ryker. He goes to preschool at the Big Red Barn. But, my school is much better because I get to learn about Jesus, my Lord and Savior. Ryker’s school doesn't teach that.” The woman replied with a smile, “You are so lucky to be able to go to such a wonderful school.” Jax smiled back, and said with confidence, “Yes, and soon my brother will be able to go Yuma Lutheran School too, so he can learn more about Jesus.” We laughed all together, treasuring the words that had come out of the mouth of my grandson. What a wonderful gift he was able to share with an acquaintance of mine, in the produce aisle at the grocery store, God’s promise of salvation.

Devotion:

Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger (Psalm 8:2).

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

What a blessing to recognize and rejoice in the faith of a little child. It is a great witness to all who hear the Father’s words from a little child.

Prayer:

Thank you Heavenly Father, for your Son, Jesus Christ our Savior, and for the Holy Spirit that sustains us and guides us through all things. Let us have the faith of a child, and that we can boldly proclaim the Gospel through our words and our actions. 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!

Opportunities to Share our Christian Faith

woman praying with sunset in background

In the past twenty-five years or so in my city in southern Michigan there has been an influx of Spanish-speaking citizens, mostly from, in, or near the state of Michoacán, Mexico. The local people have experienced a learning curve in becoming accustomed to having these immigrants among our population. The Mexican natives have frequently felt a sense of non-acceptance.

I volunteer through my county Literacy Council and have been entrusted with a student named Maria. I work with her to develop English reading and writing skills, but I have also learned much from Maria. Over the past thirty-three months, Maria and I have established a warm relationship which we both cherish. We have enjoyed reading, writing and conversing in English together, and have frequently found opportunities to share with each other our Christian faith and convictions. I have introduced Christian books to Maria, which we read together, and she has gifted me with a flip calendar featuring daily inspirational Bible Scripture selections. While Maria and I share together, she gains confidence in her English communication skills and I have learned greater empathy for the challenges an immigrant faces in a new culture. I have felt that the Heavenly Father has placed me as a literacy coach with the perfect Christian friend, and Maria has shown the same sentiments to me. Praise God!

Devotion:

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person (Colossians 4:5-6).

All opportunities are a gift from God. Let us recognize these opportunities and share the love, grace and mercy of Christ with others. Our actions and our words will be praise and worship to our Heavenly Father for his many gifts to us, especially the gift of redemption.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us opportunities to share your love with other Christians and thank you for giving us opportunities to share with those who may not yet know you. We give you glory, praise, and honor. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Mary Craaybeek
Michigan District

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

Thanks from the Gospel Outreach Committee!

God’s Timing is the Right Timing

This past fall, my aunt passed away. She and my uncle had been married for 62 years and they had no children. My sisters and I were always a part of their lives and they were always a part of everything we did; holidays, birthdays, and school events. The one exception was church activities. They were not involved in the church in any way, and we knew not to invite them to church activities. My uncle was very dependent on my aunt – you see at 84 years old he did not read or write. She took care of all of the paperwork for the farming business, read all of the mail, did all of the banking, etc. Simple things like knowing how to run the washing machine or microwave were things he did not do. To tell him how by saying “turn the knob to start” didn’t work. You had to show him how, and then give him time to learn. So, after my aunt’s passing, not only was he grieving the loss of his spouse, he had lost his business partner, his written communication, and his confidence.

A couple of weeks after my aunt passed away, my uncle was ready to go to the sale barn for lunch and to interact with friends. While he, my mom, and I were having coffee and rolls and waiting for others to arrive, we were talking. I don’t really remember what the conversation was about, but something was said about going to church on Sunday morning, and out of my mouth came these words – “Would you like to go with us to church on Sunday?” — “I’ll come and pick you up.” (These words were from the Holy Spirit, not from me — I knew better than to ask this man who I’ve known my whole life to go to church — because I knew the answer would be “no” — it always had been, even when I was a little girl.) Well God had different plans. Initially, my uncle said “I’ll have to think about it.” However, by the end of our time together that day, my uncle wanted to know if I really would come and get him for church and I said yes, I would and we set up a time for me to pick him up.

man praying

On Sunday we went to church together.  I think Pastor had the perfect message for my uncle that morning, but I didn’t know how much he had gotten from that message. Feedback after church was that he liked the minister, we sat too close to the front, and that the organ was too loud. I thought I’d really messed up — more bad comments than good. But again, not my timing, but God’s timing, was at work. He wanted to go back the next week, so my sister picked him up. They sat on the opposite side of the church from the organ, and a little farther back. It was better. My sister continued to pick him up for the next several weeks. Then he began to drive himself. He continued to go and said that his time at church made him feel better and that it was comforting. Once again, God was at work in the details.

Then my uncle began to talk about baptism and that he wanted to be baptized. A few weeks later, he was baptized! God’s perfect timing for him.

Devotion:

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.  For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you (Matthew 10:19b-20).

I am amazed how God worked in this very sad and challenging situation with a family member, to put the simple words of asking him to come to church with us into my mouth, and then put it in my uncle’s heart to say yes. God’s timing was indeed the perfect timing.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for the opportunity given to me to care for my uncle in his time of need. Thank you for your perfect timing to allow your words to be spoken through me and for opening my uncle’s heart to say yes to your invitation of hope and salvation. May we remember that you are always with us as we love and care for our family, friends, and neighbors, and that in your time, you will give us the words we need to share with them. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Crystal Miller
Nebraska North District

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

Thanks from the Gospel Outreach Committee!

Afterglow Overflow

woman praying with sunset in background

When we are enjoying the end of a beautiful sunset, we would do well to turn 180 degrees and check out the afterglow in the eastern skies, which is often as lovely to behold as the sunset itself.

At the end of an uplifting, though often exhausting, LWML Pacific Southwest District Convention, there is also a beautiful afterglow as we, on our way home, reflect the beauty of the Lord with whom we have spent such wonderful moments. The blessings we have received spill over to bless those we encounter.

Our trio experienced this most emphatically, and twice, within a couple of hours of the convention’s closing worship. What we thought was a frustrating development — a dead battery in our car in the parking garage — created opportunities to share the love of God. While waiting for AAA to arrive with our needed help we had lunch in the casino — and asked our waitress if we could pray for her. She was very touched and requested prayers for her daughter who was facing health issues and surgery. Beyond our prayers, we were able to offer specific encouragement, as one of our group had a child go through the very same challenge. Then when we got to the car and met the AAA technician, we again asked if we could pray for her. She, too, teared up and shared some very personal challenges her family was facing. Along with our prayers with and for her, our group again had some very specific experiences we could share showing the hope God gives and some specific steps to get her the help she needed. The three of us were blown away that the Lord would lead us to those in need immediately following the richness and beauty of the convention. While we may never know how things turned out for these two women, we will never forget the warmth and joy this afterglow provided for us.

Be encouraged, be brave, be ready — share the afterglow of the time you spend with Jesus!

PS: We especially treasured these experiences as we crawled south on I-15 amid the throngs of those leaving Las Vegas, as it took us over 8 hours to get to San Diego!

Devotion:

He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead (Acts 10:41–42 NIV).

Talk about “afterglow” — just think of how the people who met Jesus after his resurrection were glowing! Are we not also those “who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead”? Do we not partake of Jesus’ body and blood during the sacrament of Holy Communion? So, therefore we too are commanded to “preach to the people and to testify.” We may not have seen Jesus face-to-face but we have the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide us and direct us in all things. Praise God for these everyday opportunities to share our glowing faith with a stranger in our midst!

Prayer:

Dear Father in Heaven,

How can we ever thank you enough for the gift of “mountaintop experiences” where we feel so much closer to you? Help us to understand that when we are in fellowship with each other, reading Your Word, sharing the Lord’s Supper, and singing your praises, it’s so much easier to feel close to you. When we leave your house,   send your Holy Spirit so that we might be bold to share those experiences with others. Please continue to remind us that, while we are basking in the glow of the Son-rise, others are suffering in darkness. Embolden us to bring peace and comfort to those around us through the message of your saving grace. Amen.

Linda Koch
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!

God’s Intentional Friendship

nullOver ten years ago I attended a Bible study that was held at a local assisted living facility. That is where I met one of the residents and became friends with Mary. I followed Mary every time she switched living facilities. I wanted Mary to know that she was not alone and that I was there for her.

Mary and I had many talks over the years she spent in assisted living and finally the nursing home. We were each other's cheerleader. We talked about Bible passages, sermons, the books we read together, church newsletters and about our families. She prayed for the people at the nursing home, her caregivers and their families, her daughters and for my family.  I prayed for God to give Mary strength, patience, confidence and hope in her final years. I prayed for her daughters who rarely came to see her, for her roommate who went for a drive with her son one day and ended up being drop off at the nursing home, and for all the caregivers who served the patients faithfully and put smiles on their faces.

Mary spent her final years talking to her caregivers and fellow patients about God, while handing out Portals of Prayer Devotional books (in English and Spanish) to everyone who wanted one. On Christmas and Easter she would hand out Christian tracts (in English and Spanish). On other holidays, she would pass out cards and bookmarks I had made with Bible verses on them. She also gave away Christian books that she had read. These opportunities allowed her to talk to others about their faith.

I received a call today from the social worker at the Nursing Home where Mary was residing. She called to tell me that Mary received her Crown of Glory this morning. I was happy for Mary, for she had longed to be with our Heavenly Father but I am missing my friend.

Devotion: 

I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you. (Philemon 4-7)

The week before Mary passed away she had been reading an inspirational book and had it out on a table by her bed next to her Bible. The social worker had often been offered devotional books, but always declined the offer. On the day Mary received her Crown of Glory, the social worker saw the book and picked it up. She has decided to read it. I guess Mary got to give out one more book. To God be the Glory!

As I talked with the social worker, we told stories back and forth about how God had touched our lives. She relived moments at the nursing home where she was able to talk to and bring the word of God to the dying. It was a healing conversation for both of us, full of God’s promises.

I never got to be with my mother in her final days, but I was privileged to be able to help a friend in her final years.  It was a gift to both of us.

Prayer:

Dear Father in Heaven,
Thank you for the many friendships you have bestowed upon me. Thank you for the many opportunities that you give me to share the saving grace of the Gospel with others. Thank you for your Holy Spirit that guides me and gives me courage, to tell others that you put in my path, about our Lord and Savior, Jesus. In Jesus name, Amen.

Nancy Heredia
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!

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