Friday, November 28, 2014

Now is the Day of Salvation

On Sunday, October 26th, 2014, my wife and I had shared Jesus with a man down the street at a run-down, old house we passed by frequently.  That day as we were heading out in the van to evangelize to our community, we initially drove by his house as we were heading to another place, where we had usually evangelized.  But the Holy Spirit had me pull over, pray for guidance, and then turn around and go back to the old, run-down house. We had stood out there on the porch, knocking several times and heard his wife inside on the telephone, who even walked by the front door without answering our knocks. Through the open window on the porch, we could see the owner of the house sitting on the couch, smoking a cigarette, watching television. Finally the man, whose name we found out was Eddie, came to the front door and we introduced ourselves to him as new neighbors from down the street. He apologized that his wife had not answered, since she was on the phone. He said he was not feeling well, which is why he had not answered sooner.

We stood there for a while, getting acquainted with each other.  Somewhat further into the conversation, I asked if he had any spiritual beliefs, and he indicated he was a Christian.  So I asked him who Jesus is to him, and he said that He was his Lord. When I asked him where he would go if he died that very day, he said he hoped he would go to heaven. Although he claimed Jesus as his Lord, he was smoking and watching secular TV on Sunday. When I asked him why he thought God would let him into heaven, he replied it was because he helps people and does good.  I asked whether he would want to know the truth, if he found out that what he believed were not true, and he said he would want to know. So I offered to open the Bible and share some Scriptures with him, but since he was not feeling well that day, he said it would not be a good time for that.

Seeing that I would not have a chance to open the Scriptures with Him, I then simply preached the gospel to him, telling him we need to repent for the kingdom of heaven is near. I reminded him that we cannot trust in our own good works to save us, and that it is only by repenting from our sin and believing in the Lord Jesus Christ that we can be saved.  I told him it is only by trusting in the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross, accepting his free gift of salvation, and having a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ that we can be saved. I reminded him that it is a narrow road to heaven, so we must strive to enter through the narrow gate, and that if we claim Him as our Lord, we cannot go on in sin, for example, smoking cigarettes, watching secular TV, and failing to keep Sundays holy, and think we are going to heaven.  If He is our Lord, we must obey Him. I probably told him, as I often tell people, not to put off repenting for later, but to do it today. With his permission, we then prayed for him to be healed of the flu like symptoms he had been having for the past few days prior to that, and prayed for his knees, which were bothering him from many years of working as an auto mechanic. We said goodbye and planned to go back at a later time to share the Scriptures with him.

That was nearly five weeks ago.  Now that I am back from my trip to Hungary, I was thinking about how we need to go back and share the Scriptures with Eddie.  However, during the past few days, I noticed there was a sign in front of Eddie’s home, advising motorists to please go slowly due to a recent death in the family.  As soon as I saw that sign, I became concerned that Eddie may have died.  I noticed an awning over a fresh grave at the cemetery near his home.  But when I checked the name on the grave, it was John and not Eddie.  I was thinking I needed to stop by Eddie’s home and give my condolences and find out who died.  But today (November 29th) when we drove by the cemetery, we saw another awning over a second new grave, and this awning had the name of the same Smith Funeral Home printed on it that was on the sign in front of Eddie’s house.  So I stopped and checked the grave, but it was so fresh that no name was on it yet.

Then I stopped by Eddie’s house with my youngest daughter and paid a visit.  An old lady answered, named Therry, who was either his mother or mother-in-law visiting from out of state.  I mentioned the signs out in front of the house indicating a recent death in the family. She said that Eddie had just died on Monday (November 24th), and they had just buried him today.  I was shocked.  She said that on Monday he collapsed dead on the couch, supposedly of a heart attack, and the emergency personnel were unable to resuscitate him. He was only sixty years old!

We don't know what happened to Eddie, whether he repented of his sin before he died.  Our Father knows, but we do not. We can only hope Eddie repented fully of all his sins, and surrendered his life to Jesus Christ before he died, because mercy is only available while we are on earth. Hell is full of people who wish they could come back to earth for just one minute, so that they could repent.  Most people who once gave their life to Jesus and then returned to living in sin or went back to the world, don't heed our warnings when we try to tell them to repent and return to Jesus.  We find they usually just continue living as they were before we spoke to them.  They don't realize that tomorrow isn't certain.  All they have is today, and tomorrow they could be dead.  In the case of Eddie, he died only four weeks and one day after we preached the gospel to him.

I believe we were successful in sharing Jesus with him, because we did our part.  Even if he did not repent, our sharing the gospel with him will be for his judgment.  Our success is not based on his response.  It's based on our obedience to God.  It is the duty of every Christian to evangelize.  Don't neglect to evangelize, because you never know if it will be the person's last opportunity to repent.  Your voice may be last one they ever hear.  As the Scripture says, " 'In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.' I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation." (2 Cor 6:2).  If you are not living for Jesus and serving Him, then don't delay another day!  The time has come. Repent for the kingdom of God is near.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Most other Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®, unless otherwise noted.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, I recommend reading Life is Short. Eternity is Not, Drifting Away, Is Obedience Optional?, Avoid Becoming a Corrupted Christian, The Forgotten Sin of Worldliness, Striving to Enter the Kingdom of God, Alcohol and Cigarettes -- Ten Divine Revelations, Rachael Mushala Testimony of Hell, Zipporah Mushala’s Second Testimony of Hell, Zipporah Mushala’s Third Testimony of Hell, Keeping Sundays Holy - Part I, Keeping Sundays Holy - Part II, and Ask for the Ancient Paths. You are invited to visit the Home page of this blog, and also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."  

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Here I Am, Send Me

God in His wisdom has chosen to involve man in His loving plan to save mankind.  The price for sin has been paid, for our Lord Jesus Christ has purchased our salvation with His blood shed on the cross, but messengers must still proclaim the good news. While the eternal destiny of souls are at stake, the Lord has chosen to rely on His people to complete the rescue mission.

Have you offered yourself to the Lord to be one of His messengers?

The Need
Every minute there are thousands of people tripping into hell.  Whether or not they hear and obey the gospel will have eternal consequences. This is an issue of the highest level of seriousness. The King of kings wants us to come and consider this matter that He is working on, and to join Him in His work. He is willing to put responsibility on us. God has delegated this to us and He's counting on us. If we fail, then there are at least two possible consequences:

1.    Souls will needlessly perish (see Lk 13:3,5; Jn 3:18)
2.    We will be guilty of their blood (see Eze 3:17-19; 33:6-9; Act 20:26-27; and  Ultimate Accountability)

The apostle Paul laid out the need for messengers so well!  First he explained the message of the good news that must be proclaimed.  Here is the message:

“But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’--that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for ‘Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” (Rom 10:8-13)

Then Paul explained through a series of questions why messengers are needed. He said:

“How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!’” (Rom 10:14-15)

Let’s look at each of Paul’s questions. How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? They cannot. How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? They cannot. And how will they hear without a preacher? They cannot. How will they preach unless they are sent? They cannot.  Everyone needs to hear the good news of Jesus Christ at least one time, so that they can have an opportunity to believe in Him and call upon Him and be saved.  And in order for that to happen, they need a preacher, who must be sent to them to tell them the good news.

Jesus expressed the need for laborers this way:
“Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He *said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.’” (Mat 9:35-38)

The harvest has always been plentiful and the laborers have always been few.  The masses take the highway to hell, and very few seek to reach them with the gospel.  That's why nobody who has obeyed the call should ever have to return to secular work due to lack of funding, because the need for laborers is so great.  God wants us to have deep concern and compassion as He does.  He wants us to pray about it, and eventually as you pray for Him to send forth laborers into His harvest, He may send you.  Until then, as you continue to pray, you can give financially to support the ones who have already been sent out.

The Sending or Great Commission
And Jesus did send out messengers. 

“But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’” (Mat 28:16-20).

First of all, He had instructed them to go to a certain mountain in Galilee.  They obeyed and met with Him there.  And up there on the mountain in His presence, they worshiped Him.  They would not stay on that mountain, since none of them lived on it. They would all need to go from that place once He ascended.  And He commanded, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you…”

A Reiterative Process
Jesus commanded the eleven to go and make disciples and teach them to do everything He commanded them to do. The eleven apostles went and made disciples and taught them to observe everything Jesus commanded them (the apostles) to do.  The disciples of the apostles then went and made disciples in obedience to what Jesus commanded the eleven apostles to do and instructed them to observe everything Jesus commanded the eleven apostles to do. This process has repeated itself throughout the generations.

I would like to emphasize that disciples are expected to do what the eleven apostles were told to do. Some people think what Jesus commanded was just for the eleven apostles to do, but it's for every disciples to observe.

Still Unfulfilled
If you know Jesus today, it is probably because others have obeyed the Great Commission down through the generations.  But just because you may have received the gospel does not mean the commission has been fulfilled yet, so we do not have the privilege or luxury of sitting back idly or sleeping during harvest. This is not the Great Suggestion in the sense that it is optional.  It is necessary that we all proclaim the good news. And no matter where we go, the Lord has promised to be with us always. 

Earlier Sendings
The Lord had previously sent out the twelve and seventy others. From these earlier commissions or "sendings", we can learn more about how to go and what to say and do.

The first time He sent out the twelve it was like this:

“Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness....These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: ‘Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give. Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts, or a bag for your journey, or even two coats, or sandals, or a staff; for the worker is worthy of his support. And whatever city or village you enter, inquire who is worthy in it, and stay at his house until you leave that city. As you enter the house, give it your greeting. If the house is worthy, give it your blessing of peace. But if it is not worthy, take back your blessing of peace. Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet. Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city. Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues; and you will even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.’” (Mat 10:1-20).

And when He sent out the seventy others, it was like this:

“Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come. And He was saying to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. ‘Go; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. ‘Carry no money belt, no bag, no shoes; and greet no one on the way. ‘Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace be to this house.' ‘If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. ‘Stay in that house, eating and drinking what they give you; for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not keep moving from house to house. ‘Whatever city you enter and they receive you, eat what is set before you; and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.' ‘But whatever city you enter and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, 'Even the dust of your city which clings to our feet we wipe off in protest against you; yet be sure of this, that the kingdom of God has come near.' ‘I say to you, it will be more tolerable in that day for Sodom than for that city.” (Luk 10:1-12)

“The seventy returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.’ And He said to them, ‘I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. ‘Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you. ‘Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.’” (Luk 10:17-20)

Preach the Gospel to All Creation
So we know that Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth, and He has commissioned not only the twelve and the seventy other, but all of His disciples to go and proclaim the good news to all creation.  That was part of the reason He initially called His disciples:

“And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.’" (Mar 1:17).  If you have decided to follow Jesus, then you have signed up to become a fisher of men.

At the end of Mark’s gospel, he records the Great Commission in this way:

“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.’” (Mar 16:15-18)

It was clear from Mark’s gospel that the Lord sent out His disciples not just to preach but to cast out demons and heal the sick in His name.  That’s why it is so important to ask for the baptism with the Holy Spirit, and then wait to receive it, so that you are endued with power to be His witness.

Jesus said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." (Act 1:8)

Jesus Sends You!
Just as the Father sent Jesus, He sends us.

“So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and *said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’”  (Joh 20:19-21)

The Lord is still saying to His disciples today, “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”  He is a sending God, because He has compassion for the lost and doesn’t want anyone to perish, but all to come to repentance.

Offering Your Life
Have you obeyed the Great Commission?  Have you offered your life to the Lord to go and proclaim the good news?  Let me share with you what happened to Isaiah the prophet.

“In the year of King Uzziah's death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.’ And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. Then I said, ‘Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.’ Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said, ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.’ Then 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!’” (Isa 6:1-8)

Isaiah was related to King Uzziah, his cousin, who had recently died.  And the Lord took Isaiah up to the throne room of God to see the King of kings. He was sitting on His throne, high and lifted up.  God is not like us. He is awesome and mighty. The train of His robe filled the temple.

When you stand in the holy presence of the Lord, you are humbled and realize His greatness and your true condition.  He is not just holy, but thrice holy in the most perfect way. Even the holy angels who declare this truth in His presence are created to be awesome.  The mightiest heavenly beings love and fear Him.  The very sound of their voices giving God praise caused the thresholds to shake and the heavenly temple to fill with smoke.

It’s easy to think of somebody else who would be a better messenger, rather than we ourselves.  It’s easy to think of all the reasons why we are not fit for such an awesome task.  Like Isaiah, we feel so unworthy.  He actually felt a holy terror, saying, “Woe is me, for I am ruined!”

The thing that Isaiah realized was that even though he was a prophet of God, seeking to live righteously before the Lord, he was still a man of unclean lips and he lived among a people of unclean lips.  We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We all need salvation.

The angel took the live, hot coal from the altar that was burning with holy fire.  He touched Isaiah’s lips with that coal and said, ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.’

How could an angel administer atonement to the prophet?  Without the shedding of blood there can be no forgiveness of sins.  I think that this altar in heaven that was burning with holy fire represented the sacrifice of Christ on the cross that was still yet to happen in time. Yet in eternity there is no time. 

And with Isaiah standing right there in God’s presence, the Lord asked, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” This is very interesting, because God can do anything He wants and He knows all things. He was asking this question, not because He lacked information, but in order to express the need and wait for Isaiah to respond.  That’s the way God works.  He wants us to offer ourselves willingly in His service. 

Isaiah’s response was to say, “Here am I. Send me!”  I pray that will be your response today in the presence of the Lord.  As He considers the thousands that are perishing every minute, as they die and go to hell, He still asks, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” May you respond as Isaiah did, “Here am I. Send me!” 

This is not just for certain people to offer their lives as a sacrifice to God, but for all disciples.  Paul said,

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” (Rom 12:1)

Do you have the same attitude that Paul had when he said, “For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.” (1Co 9:16).

Are you under compulsion to proclaim the good news to the lost?  Paul knew that if he neglected the call to do so, he would be in big trouble. He said, “Woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.”

His whole life was devoted to completing that task.  He said, "But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.” (Act 20:24)

We need cross-loving men and women today who will say, “Lord, I offer my life to you as a living sacrifice.  I am under compulsion to preach the gospel. The love of Christ compels me! Woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.  I consider my life as worth nothing to me so that I may testify of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Going Forth on the Great Adventure
When you do this, you will embark on a great adventure with God.  He will take you at your word and you will become like Abraham of old, the father of the faith.

“Now the LORD said to Abram, ‘Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father's house, To the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing;’” (Gen 12:1-2).

The Lord has called many people to go forth from their country and from their relatives and from their father’s house to a land the Lord has shown them.  For many this has been to foreign nations. Many have been sent away from their hometowns to other lands for the sake of the gospel.  And they have gone forth with God’s blessing to make the name of Jesus great. But the important part is that you go to the land that God will show you.  As long as He is in control, then you will be in the place where He needs you to be.  You will be going forth on the great adventure in a walk of faith.

Putting it All Together
Will you look at the fields that are ripe for harvest?  Will you see that the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few?  Will you pray the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into His harvest? Will you have compassion for the lost, those who have never had the chance to hear the gospel even once?  Will you look and see that they are they are distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Will you recognize the need?

How will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent?

Will you accept your call as a disciple of Christ to become a fisher of men? Will you hear God saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Instead of saying, “Send someone else,” will you willingly offer your body as a living sacrifice to God, and in His presence say, “Here am I. Send me”? I encourage you to do that right now.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, I recommend reading Give Me Children or I'll Die!, Rescue Souls!, Compassion for the Lost (poem), Ultimate AccountabilityFishers of Men - the 419 series, Be a Star for Jesus, International Impact of Pentecost, and  Multiplication. You are invited to visit the Home page of this blog, and also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."  

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Give Me Children or I'll Die!

Today I want to talk to you about the kind of attitude and prayer that touches the heart of God and moves His mighty hand to save.

In the book of Genesis, we find that while Jacob's wife Leah bore him many children, his wife Rachel, whom he loved, bore him no children.  For she was barren. But she was not content with staying that way! "Now when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she became jealous of her sister; and she said to Jacob, 'Give me children, or else I die!'" (Gen 30:1)

The Lord spoke to me through Rachel’s prayer, “Give me children or I’ll die!”  He did give her Joseph, who was the most important of all Jacob’s children in that he became a great ruler and saved the whole family in famine.

"Then God remembered Rachel, and God gave heed to her and opened her womb. So she conceived and bore a son and said, 'God has taken away my reproach.' She named him Joseph, saying, 'May the LORD give me another son.'" (Gen 30:22-24)

Again the Lord answered her prayer and gave her another son, Benjamin, whom she died giving birth to (son of my trouble), yet who was so dear to both Joseph and Jacob (son of my right hand).  Although she only had two children, she gave everything, including her own life, so that they may have life. 

The Lord Jesus Christ
This is what Jesus did.  He said, "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends." (Joh 15:13).  And He willingly laid down His life on the cross, taking the punishment in our place, so that you and I could be forgiven, receiving the gift of eternal life with Him in heaven, if we repent and believe in Him.

And the Holy Spirit spoke of Him through the prophet Isaiah saying, “But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.” (Isa 53:10).

He did sacrifice Himself as an offering to God for our sins, and now He is able to see and have a personal relationship with His millions of children.

He taught us to live like He did, saying, "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it." (Mat 16:25)

The Apostle Paul
The apostle Paul also had the same attitude in that he considered his life worth nothing, so that He might preach the gospel of God’s saving grace.  "But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.” (Act 20:24).  He said, “But I have used none of these things. And I am not writing these things so that it will be done so in my case; for it would be better for me to die than have any man make my boast an empty one. For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.” (1Co 9:15-16).  And he said, “To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.” (1Co 9:22)

We know that the Lord used the apostle Paul mightily.  He could say,

"Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men.” (Act 20:26)

Paul did not only preach to a few people, he preached to everyone he could.

"Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth" (Colossians 1:4-6).

"If indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister" (Colossians 1:23).

The Apostles Peter and John
Likewise, the apostles Peter and John had the same kind of attitude.  They preached the gospel, no matter what the cost, even when they were threatened.

“And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.’ When they had threatened them further, they let them go (finding no basis on which to punish them) on account of the people, because they were all glorifying God for what had happened;” (Act 4:18-21)

Since they continued to preach in Jesus’ Name, they were put in jail, but that did not stop them either.

“They laid hands on the apostles and put them in a public jail. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the gates of the prison, and taking them out he said, ‘Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple the whole message of this Life.’ Upon hearing this, they entered into the temple about daybreak and began to teach…” (Act 5:18-21a)

“When they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. The high priest questioned them, saying, ‘We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man's blood upon us.’ But Peter and the apostles answered, 'We must obey God rather than men.'” (Act 5:27-29)

Not only did the Jews persecute them, but also King Herod, who had James put to death by the sword and wanted to please the Jews by doing the same to Peter.

“When he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out before the people. So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God.” (Act 12:4-5)

And the Lord sent His angel to the prison during the night to release Peter, so that he miraculously escaped.  He continued to preach the gospel after that for the rest of his life. 

“But the word of the Lord continued to grow and to be multiplied.” (Act 12:24)

Modern Missionaries
Likewise, many modern missionaries, evangelists, and pastors have been inspired to do the same, laying down their lives for the gospel. A couple of examples are Jim Elliot and Nate Saint, who were killed by the Waodani (or Auca) Indians of Ecuador that they so lovingly went there to reach.  But in the 50 years that have passed since that time, the Lord has used their sacrifice to bring about the reconciliation and transformation of the tribe. 

For example, one of those Indians, who took part in the now infamous 1956 attack on the five missionaries during Operation Auca, is Mincaye Enquedi. He was one of the killers during the attack, and is now a preacher and church elder.  This took place, because Jim Elliot's wife, Elisabeth, and the other missionary wives did not hate those who killed their husbands.  Instead they went back to those same people and evangelized them. (You can see the interview of Mincaye and Steve Saint, son of Nate Saint here).

During Jim Elliot's lifetime he would say, "Only one life, twill soon be past.  Only what's done for Christ will last."  Certainly the work that he and his fellow missionaries did for Christ in Ecuador has made a lasting impact with eternal value.  This story has inspired thousands to serve Christ.

Putting it All Together
Therefore, we have several, great examples from Scripture, as well as modern history, of the kind of attitude about souls that pleases the Lord.  Rachel exemplified that in her desperate plea, “Give me children or I’ll die!”  And she really did die giving birth to her second child.

The first child she had was Joseph, and as a type of Christ, he brought salvation to the Jews.  So while she may not have had many children like her sister Leah, the one son made a huge impact that has been remembered for thousands of years. 

Our Lord Jesus was the greatest example, because nobody had any greater love than He did.  He laid down His life for us on the cross, although He had no sin.  And now He has many children. 

The apostles Peter, John, and Paul followed in Jesus’ steps, by preaching the gospel at all costs, so that they could bring more souls to Jesus.  People who have this attitude pray prayers like, “Give me spiritual children or I’ll die!” and “Give me souls for Christ or I’ll die!”  Is that your heart's cry to God?  Is that your prayer and your desperate attitude?  If so, I know the Lord will be pleased and will answer your prayer. 

As you are faithful to preach to others, whom the Lord puts in your path, even if you don’t lead thousands to Christ, you will know that you have been obedient to God.  And even if only one comes to Christ, he could be a chosen instrument of God like the apostle Paul that could reach untold thousands with the gospel that would otherwise have never heard.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. "One Solitary Life" paintings © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, I recommend reading Compassion for the Lost (poem), Be a Star for Jesus, Fishers of Men - the 419 series, International Impact of Pentecost, Life Transformation Groups, Multiplication, and the other posts available through the Home Page of this blog.  If you would like to become a disciple who multiplies disciples, please prayerfully consider enrolling in Doulos Training School, our international, distance education ministry. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.