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Encouragement

I am a social worker in a nursing facility. During a workday I often speak with dozens of residents. Some visits are scheduled, some are not. One day was particularly terrible. I was all doom and gloom. I felt empty, useless, and defeated. Even now, years later, I remember the depth of the feelings. 

On that day, I visited a resident with whom I made no appointment. It was a total whim, or so I thought, that I was there with her, in her room, putting on a smile and engaging in conversation. After a few minutes, our conversation turned to discussions of faith. She spoke of her fulfilled and joyful life. A life she happily reflected upon, and for which she gave thanks to the Lord. She spoke of all that He had provided to her. She did this despite the recent death of her husband, which was the reason she was placed in the nursing home. She thanked God despite her own failing health and the need to be placed on hospice care. She wasn’t angry. She wasn’t counting her losses. She wasn’t feeling empty. She shared that she felt indebted. As we continued, she spoke about how the Lord was always with her. 

It was then that it dawned on me that God is listening and observing us. Of course, He is! On my terrible day I failed to remember that He is always with me. For thus says Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out (Ezekiel 34:11). This woman’s witness reminded me of His constant presence. My emptiness was nothing compared to what my Savior had endured. It was also nothing compared to what she was enduring. This woman lost so much! Jesus Christ made the ultimate sacrifice in His death for us on the cross! I sat there humbled, praying for forgiveness. We sometimes need to be reminded to a have grateful heart and to look to the Lord for joy no matter what the circumstances. We need a messenger to show us not to get stuck in those times in life. We especially need this when we feel all the things in life are too big for us. For me, on this day, it took an 89-year-old dying woman to remind me of the love of Christ. 

Devotion

Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!  Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right and teaches the humble his way. All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and testimonies (Psalm 25: 6–10).

After this special woman’s passing, I thought of our conversation many times. I often try to remember why my day felt so terrible, but the “why?” became such an insignificant part of the story. When my mind wanders to her all I can think of is my Lord, and I pray. I thank Him for His blessings, past and present. Blessings freely given even on the terrible days. 

Have you had a “terrible” day that God used to bless you?

Has God used you to be a messenger of His love and presence?

Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father,

Even when we might not be listening, we thank You for daily reminders of Your love. Thank You for always being there to guide us and lead us so we are not alone. Thank You for Your Word which is filled with comfort and peace. May we always look for Your messengers and remember to be Your messengers. Amen.
 

Alicia Starrett–Seidel
Gospel Outreach Committee
New Jersey District


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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


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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 to the Vice President of Gospel Outreach here.

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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 to the Vice President of Gospel Outreach here.

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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 to the Vice President of Gospel Outreach here.

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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 to the Vice President of Gospel Outreach here.

Thanks from the Gospel Outreach Committee!

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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 (Romans 15:13).

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 you 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 to the Vice President of Gospel Outreach here.

Thanks from the Gospel Outreach Committee!

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