Remember this: whoever turns a sinner back from the wrong way will save that sinner’s soul from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins (James 5:20 GNT).

Remember! Don’t be late for carpool. Get your coat. Drink lots of water. Always be polite to grown ups. Stick up for the little guy.  Don’t forget to fill up the car with gas. Remember to drive slowly in the school zone.   And do not text and drive.  Ever! 

I give continual reminders to my kids, like any good parent, boss, or coach.  But what if you had to squeeze all your life lessons into five short chapters? James has packed a veritable how-to manual for Christian living into his little epistle.  But in the last verse of the last chapter, we find out what’s nearest to his heart…and to the heart of God.
To seek and save the lost.  Remember. That’s why Jesus came in the first place.  Now God repeats His mandate through James.  Go after my lost kids!  
James  knew Jesus, not only as Lord, but as an earthly half-brother. They grew up together. Ate meals together.  Argued, wrestled, played.  They were family.  Better than most, James understood the Savior’s  heart–that of a shepherd who would leave the ninety-nine to go after the one lost sheep.

We could forgive James if he shouted this message from the rooftop with exclamations and imperatives.  Instead, the words come almost as a whisper.  And we draw close to hear his gentle, yet sobering reminder:
My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins (James 5:19, 20 NIV).
There’s unusual tenderness here.  James sounds like a mother concerned for her wandering child.
Reminds me of the night little Nicky wandered away after church.  My friend Sandra couldn’t find her six-year-old daughter anywhere.  A quick search by a handful of friends turned up empty.  Each passing minute added to Sandra’s panic.  What if Nicky had been lured away by some sinister stranger?  Unthinkable.  So we all frantically scoured the building.
 Imagine Sandra’s relief when nearly forty minutes later, a friend found little Nicky.  She had wandered into an empty nursery where she was quietly playing with toys. Words can’t describe Sandra’s relief and gratitude. Rejoicing spread quickly throughout our little search party.
The Bible tells us there’s similar rejoicing among the angels in heaven every time a sinner repents (Luke 15:10).  Let’s be clear.  The most urgent task God has given us is not to create great families, as important as that is.  Or to build vibrant church programs.  Or to serve the poor.  Or eliminate hunger. Or discover our calling.  Our most important mission, our Great Commission, is to search for those who have wandered from the truth and bring them back to the heart of God.
Lord, make me alert to those sheep who have, through frailty or deception, strayed from Your fold.  Show me the wandering ones that are on Your heart. Break my heart for what breaks Yours.  Let this hymn  be a reminder of Your great love:  
Jesus sought me when a stranger, Wandering from the fold of God;  He, to rescue me from danger, interposed His precious blood;  how His kindness yet pursues me, mortal tongues can never tell;  clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me, I cannot proclaim it well.  -Amen
Photo d-Break My Heart


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