June 5, 2017

Prayer burdens

Today’s devotional reading touches a tender spot in my heart. I’ve many family members who do not believe in Jesus. As I read Fortner’s words, he sent my heart and thoughts again to these ones that I love.

Fortner says, “Grace does not run in blood lines.” He uses the examples of Lot and his wife who perished, David and his rebel son Absalom, Abraham and his Ishmael. As he says, many godly men and women go to heaven alone.

However, he also encourages my heart with this: “It is often true that the God of Abraham becomes the God of Sarah, then the God of Isaac and then the God of Jacob. God very often saves one and then uses him as an instrument to draw the rest to himself.”

Following Jesus Christ brings change to a person’s life, and God can use that transformation to attract others to Himself. He did it for a jailer when this man found his prison doors open but no one had escaped. Knowing he faced a Roman death penalty because of such a thing, he fearfully asked Paul and Silas what to do. And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:31)

The jailer “brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.” (Acts 16:34) His faith removed his fears, but also had an impact on his household.
This was also true of a man named Philemon. Paul wrote to him saying:

“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)

If I could chart my own course, I’d want it said of me that God used my changed life to reach everyone in my family, but I know that God charts my course, not me. He also charts the course of those in my family so it is not my prerogative or in my power to bring people to a saving faith in Jesus. I can share the gospel with them, pray fervently for them, and be a good example, but I realize that my example, teaching, or sharing the gospel may have no influence over those dearest to me. Ultimately, their spiritual destiny is up to God.

Sometimes one or two in a household are saved, and sometimes whole families are redeemed. Nothing could bless me more than having my closest and farthest family members be wholly devoted to Christ.

Jesus, You know this. For years I’ve prayed for my family yet only a few have given their lives to You in response to whatever You have done toward reaching their hearts. Because You are merciful and full of grace, I will continue to pray and continue to worship and obey You, partly for their sake, but mostly because You are worthy — regardless of Your decisions and actions in the lives of my family members. Also, I will keep trusting You to do Your will with their destiny and mine.

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