Wednesday, January 3, 2018
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On a visit to the home area where my wife grew up, she took me to this picturesque spot along the beautiful river there. When she was a little girl, she and her whole family went swimming there with the pastor of their church and his wife. That little patch of river became the scene of a dramatic rescue that afternoon. The pastor almost drowned and my father-in-law jumped in and literally saved this pastor's life. I learned recently that that pastor was one of four people that my father-in-law saved from drowning in his life. He got very serious about that when he told me the reason why. He told me about a time when he was a boy, and he literally watched two young girls drown in a river before he even knew how to swim. Immediately after that he learned to swim and to rescue drowning people. You know what motivated him? I'll tell you what, in his own words, he said, "I saw someone I couldn't rescue and I decided right then that would never happen again."
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today about "Rescue Ready."
Our word for today from the Word of God, 1 Peter 3:15: "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." Did you get those words? "Always be prepared!" to explain that hope that you found in Jesus. So, do you feel prepared to do that, always?
Why is it so important? Because of God's command. Proverbs 24:11 says, "Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering towards slaughter." If you know Jesus, you know those about-to-die people it's talking about. You know who they are. Listen to Jesus' words in John 3:36, "Whoever believes in the Son (that's Him) has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life." That's people you know, and it says about them, "God's wrath remains on him."
My father-in-law saw dying people he couldn't rescue, so he made up his mind, in his words, "to never let that happen again." He did what he had to do to learn how to be a rescuer, and he saved four lives as a result. People who are spiritually lost don't know they're dying, but you know it if you believe what Jesus said about heaven and hell. How many times have you felt like you should have said something about your Savior but you just weren't ready and another spiritually drowning person slipped beyond your grasp?
You can't do anything about those missed opportunities, and we all have a lot of those. I do. But you can make up your mind that you're going to do what you have to do to be ready for rescuing from now on. "Like what?" you say. Like thinking through how you would explain what Jesus did in the kind of non-religious words that a lost person would understand. Talk about life's most important relationship, not a religion!
I encourage people to present Christ this way. There's a relationship you're created to have. Colossians 1:16, "All things were created by Him and for Him." But it's a relationship you don't have because of your sin; you running your life instead of God running it. Isaiah 59:2, "Your sins have separated you from your God." But it's a relationship you can have because of what Jesus did on the cross by paying the death penalty. And 1 Peter 3:18 talks about Him dying in your place.
And it's a relationship you must choose. That's all in John 3:16, "God loved the world so much He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life." I have people put their name in there. "God loved ______ so much He gave His one and only Son that if ______ (there's their name) believes in Him, then ______ (your name again) will not perish but have eternal life."
You also get ready for rescue when you think through your personal Jesus-story-your Hope Story. How is your life different because of Jesus? In your lonely times, your hurting times, your stressful times? What kind of difference is He making in the kind of mate you are, or parent, or son or daughter, or student, or employee? They want to know what the difference is that Jesus makes.
Finally, pray daily for God to give you a natural opportunity to talk about your relationship with Jesus. Get yourself ready. We've let enough drowning people go. We've got to get ready for rescuing. Who knows how many people may live forever because you were ready!