2 Thessalonians 3:13 But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good. (NKJV)
(Previous devotionals can be found at www.seriousfaith.com)
I get a large amount of email and letters from readers. Many of them are criticisms which I truly appreciate because they “sharpen” me as a teacher. Many of them are kind notes of encouragement that energize me and lighten my spirit. They are truly appreciated because they extend encouragement and thankfulness – which of course feels good and is motivating.
Once in a great while, I get a letter that brings everything to a halt. A letter of this impact falls into two categories: it either makes me wonder if I should continue to write or reminds me of the real reason why the whole effort is worth it. Today’s message is about a letter that confirmed the latter.
If you have ever wondered whether God is working, this letter reminds us that His ways are not our ways. God is working behind the scenes for HIS GOOD PURPOSE, and it is our responsibility to “not grow weary in doing good” and let God be concerned about the results.
As you read this letter, keep in mind that I was not trying to TEACH this dear Sister when I responded to her letter, so don’t read it through a theological filter as if I was conducting a Bible class. I was writing from a human perspective and how the things of God are manifested at our level. I have also changed the names for privacy reasons.
This letter demonstrates to all who read it that our efforts for God are NEVER in vain, and that regardless of the outcome, God is working to see His will accomplished in all things:
I wrote the following to you:
“For over two years, at different times, when the opportunity arises, I have lovingly tried to share God’s plan of salvation with my brother who has been fighting cancer. He does not want to hear. Last week I decided to relay your messages on hell to him. He cancelled my subscription to your Serious Faith Devotional! When I realized what he had done, I re-subscribed and read your devotional for the day.
In it you wrote that ‘just today’ you had received an email from someone who said he had never for a moment believed in the concept of hell. You responded, ‘How tragic that this false belief will only become clear one second after this person dies … but then it will be too late.’
I knew it was Roger who had written that email and I also knew he would not see your response – so I wrote and told him I knew what he had done (taking me off your Devotional list). I told him that I knew the letter about not believing in hell was also from him. I told him about your ‘one second after you die it will be too late’ response. I told Roger that perhaps the result of his writing to you would be 47,000 Serious Faith Devotional readers praying for his salvation! I really hope they are because Roger went off to hospice this morning. Despite his two year battle with cancer, only yesterday the doctors finally told him directly that he is filled with cancer.”
That’s what I wrote to you. Here’s what you wrote back to me that day:
“That’s very sad. Thank you for your boldness and faithfulness to the Truth. Feel no remorse or shame for pleading with him before he dies. If our child or spouse were about to be hit by a bus, you wouldn’t hesitate to intensely persuade, beg, plead and warn them to get “out of the way”. It is the same with hell. Leave nothing unsaid to your brother so that you will have no regrets when he is gone. In the end, remember that God never fails to rescue his own. If there is a chance for his salvation, it will happen; and God may be using you as the person through which salvation is presented to him. But maybe not. That is the blessing/curse of free will. We can choose to reject Christ. We can choose to love him. If he dies unrepentant, it will be sad, but know that God’s perfect plan is not hindered in the slightest way.”
That was our exchange of emails. Brent, thank you for your words of encouragement.
I just returned from Roger’s funeral today. The pastor told us that he and his wife visited Roger at the hospice. After TWENTY years of not wanting to hear about Jesus or the Bible, and with Roger so weak he could hardly speak, he whispered to his Pastor friend, “I want to know my sins are forgiven.” His Pastor was able to lovingly lead him to ask forgiveness of his sins and accept the offer of eternal life from Jesus Christ!!! Five days later he died. I am rejoicing tonight and wanted to share this.
Thank you and any of your thousands of readers who prayed for him at that time in July when I wrote to you.
GOD BLESS YOU. MAY JESUS CHRIST BE PRAISED!
And so Roger was met by the Shepherd who was looking for His lost sheep. He was the Prodigal Son who was welcomed home with open arms by the Father whose son was lost, but now is found. God desires that all should be saved. He will not quit on us even up to the moment of our death. Our prayers and witness have potential even until the last breath. Even when our prayers do not seem to be answered, and a person passes on without repentance – we have no idea what God has done in OTHER lives through our faithfulness.
Some may argue against deathbed conversions. Please send me Scripture to support your opinion. Some may say “he wasn’t baptized!” I let you stand in judgment of that. I’ll choose to lean on a merciful God who knows a truly repentant heart asking for forgiveness and leave that in His loving hands. Some may cry “unfair! you can’t sin all your life then get saved right before you die!” Tell that to the thief on the cross.
God desires that no one perish to hell. It is in keeping with His mercy and astonishing efforts to draw all men to Him, that some will be drawn in the throes of their final breaths.
Your prayers are worth it. Your witnessing is worth it. Your pleading with the lost is worth it. Your perseverance is worth it. Do not grow weary. Do not give up. Do not lose heart in doing the Lord’s work. It is all worth it.
Lord, Help us to realize that You are always at work even if we can’t see it. Help us to never grow weary in doing good knowng that You have a plan and that none of Your sheep will be lost. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Contemplation: Have you ever prayed and prayed for someone, and it didn’t seem to do any good? Have you ever known anyone that you were just sure would never turn to God? Do you believe that God is at work even when you can’t see it? Is there anyone you have “given up” on and quit praying for?
Application: Sometimes we pray and witness and teach, and it just seems that no one is responding. We have friends and loved ones that turn a deaf ear to God’s love and ignore the danger of their impending eternal condemnation. Our efforts to witness and to pray for others are never in vain. Regardless of the final outcome, God is making our efforts “worth it”. Sometimes we get to be a part of a dramatic result that clearly shows how God was working on our behalf. Other times, we don’t get to see the earthly result but make no mistaked that God is still at work causing His perfect will to be accomplished.
Note: Let me simply and directly say: it is our not responsibility or place to judge the authenticity of last minute repentance. It is Biblically clear that any person who turns in genuine faith to God while there is still breath in his lungs has turned in trust to a merciful and loving God who has gone to extraordinary extremes (sacrificing His own Son) to save as many as can be saved. Deathbed conversions are most certainly the exception, and not the rule, but rather than question them, we should put our hope and trust in the God who desires that NONE should lost. We should instead marvel and rejoice that the “lost sheep”, “the Prodigal Son”, has found their way home to the waiting Shepherd Father who runs to greet with open arms. I was lost but now I’m found…
James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?