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Useful Service

When I first started working for my boss, he asked me, “What do I need to know about you to be an effective leader for you?” I replied, “I hate busy work. I don’t like doing things for the sake of doing them. I’m happy to do anything productive if there’s a reason for it. I don’t want to put my effort and energy into something only to be told later, ‘Thanks for doing that. We don’t really need this right now, but one day we might.’” I tend to think that all of want to do something that has purpose and meaning.

When you think about the work you do for the Lord, do you see it as meaningful or busy work? As a person who leads volunteers at a church, I sometimes get people who want the spotlight jobs. Holding a sign for people walking by, or opening a door or picking up trash around the parking lot can seem insignificant to them. To me, nothing you do for the Lord is insignificant. All of us have a role to fill. All of us joined together doing our part, no matter how small it feels, is what makes the Body of Christ work. Preaching can only be effective if there are people in the seats listening. The rest of the teams who serve are the ones that make sure people are parked, feel welcomed and find the sanctuary effortlessly.

1 Corinthians 15:58 says, “Keep busy always in your work for the Lord, since you know that nothing you do in the Lord’s service is ever useless” (GNT). No matter how big or small you feel your work for the Lord is, it is never useless. Don’t do it for the spotlight or so that others will praise you. Do it as work for the Lord because that’s what it is. God has called each of us to play a role in building His Kingdom. The approval of others is not what makes your work significant. The fact that you keep doing it for the Lord, even when no one seems to notice, is what matters. Don’t give up. Your Father in Heaven sees and will reward you when the time is right.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

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Don’t Be Stingy


I love the story in Luke where Jesus was watching the offering box as people gave. Many people gave large amounts and people took notice. Then there was a widow woman who walked up. She grabbed two small coins and put them in the offering. Jesus exclaimed that this poor widow had given more than everyone else. Confused, the disciples wondered how. Jesus then explained that others gave out of their abundance, but she gave from her need. She didn’t find an excuse not to give because she was generous. 

God loves it when we learn to give generously. I say “learn” because for most of us, it’s not natural to be generous. We’ve worked hard for our money and value it, but that is often what makes us stingy. When we are stingy, we forget that God is our source of income. We think of ourselves as the provider and therefore want to only give when we have left over money. But if we view God as our provider, we see the money as His and are free to give it away.

Deuteronomy 15:10 says, “Give freely and spontaneously. Don’t have a stingy heart. The way you handle matters like this triggers GOD, your God’s, blessing in everything you do, all your work and ventures” (MSG). When we give generously, it triggers God’s blessing in every area of our life. It tells God that you no longer see yourself as the source of your income, and that means He can trust you with more.

In Luke 6:38, Jesus put it this way, “Give and it shall be given unto you.” He went on to say that the same measure you use to give, will be used to give back to you. When we are generous, God is generous. You don’t have to have a lot to give a lot in God’s eyes. He can take a small gift and multiply it so there’s left overs (see the boy with 5 loaves and 2 fish). We have to get out of the scarcity mindset and into the abundant one. Give freely and spontaneously. It’s not your money anyway – it’s God’s!

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Be Generous


Every time I read a story about someone going above and beyond to help someone, I always read the comments. Without fail someone will write something like this, “People like this restore my faith in humanity.” It’s upsetting to me that we have gotten to the point that being selfless and generous is a rare thing in today’s world. It’s so rare that people have lost faith in humanity over it, and when it does happen, the story goes viral. That bothers me.

You and I, as Christians should be the most generous people the world has. If we truly believe that God is our source and everything we have has been given to us by Him, then we should be generous with what we have. In Matthew 10:8, Jesus said, “Freely you have received; freely give” (NIV). Our generosity of love, time, money, kindness, selflessness, and goodness should be evident to all around. In a world where it’s the exception and not the rule, our generosity will help show the love of Jesus to the world and point them to Him.

Here are some verses in the Bible on generosity.

1. Be generous, and you will be prosperous. Help others, and you will be helped.

Proverbs 11:25 GNT

2. The smooth tricks of scoundrels are evil. They plot crooked schemes. They lie to convict the poor, even when the cause of the poor is just. But generous people plan to do what is generous, and they stand firm in their generosity.

Isaiah 32:7-8 NLT

3. Generous hands are blessed hands because they give bread to the poor.

Proverbs 22:9 MSG

4. [Charge them] to do good, to be rich in good works, to be liberal and generous of heart, ready to share [with others], In this way laying up for themselves [the riches that endure forever as] a good foundation for the future, so that they may grasp that which is life indeed.

1 Timothy 6:18-19 AMP

5. He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.

2 Corinthians 9:10-11 ESV

6. Give generously to the poor, not grudgingly, for the LORD your God will bless you in everything you do.

Deuteronomy 15:10 NLT

7. Be generous: Invest in acts of charity. Charity yields high returns.

Ecclesiastes 11:1 MSG

8. Do not forget or neglect or refuse to extend hospitality to strangers [in the brotherhood–being friendly, cordial, and gracious, sharing the comforts of your home and doing your part generously], for through it some have entertained angels without knowing it.

Hebrews 13:2 AMP

9. Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.

Proverbs 19:17 ESV

10. Give to others, and God will give to you. Indeed, you will receive a full measure, a generous helping, poured into your hands—all that you can hold. The measure you use for others is the one that God will use for you.

Luke 6:38 GNT

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Our Mission

We live in a dog eat dog world. Most people are only out for themselves. When I was younger, you didn’t pass someone on the shoulder who had a flat tire. You pulled over and offered help. Now, we say, “They have a cell phone. I’m sure they’ll call someone for help if they need it.” We don’t give them a second thought because we are going somewhere and we don’t have time to be inconvenienced by someone else’s problem. That’s a spiritual problem that has bled over into our physical world.

  
The Church was founded and built upon helping those in need. It was a beacon on a hill because it was different. It was a group of people whose mission was to serve and help those who were broken down on the Road of Life. The Church fed the hungry. They clothed the poor. The people brought their extra money and possessions to the church with the intent of helping the whole community. When the Church did that, it grew by the thousands daily.

Now, the Church spends its money on many things and has lost its mission. Look at a giving envelope. Very few churches still have a line item for alms and even fewer people give towards it. I believe it’s the number one cause for the lack of explosive growth in the Church today. We have ceased to be a communal organization and have become more like an exclusive club you can belong to. We accept people who look right, act right, and live right. We’ve forgotten our mission to help the broken and hurting.

The military’s phrase, “Leave no man behind,” should be the Church’s mission statement. If we want to reach thousands, we have to get back to that communal place where our purpose and mission is helping others wherever and however they are broken down. It’s not our pastor’s responsibility to make that happen either, it’s ours individually. You can’t read the New Testament as if it was written to pastors, leaders, or even an individual. It was written to each of us as a community of believers.

In Ephesians 6:18, right after Paul tells us to put on God’s Armor, he tells us, “Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out” (MSG). That is written to you and me as individuals in the body. The burden is on us to heal the broken by loving them, to give to those less fortunate to help them along, to support those who are struggling in life, and to encourage those who are down. If each of us will do our part, we will revive not only the Church, but our nation and world.

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Be Prepared

  
The Boy Scout’s motto is “Be prepared.” It means that you should always be prepared to do what’s necessary to help others. I think it’s a great motto that we as believers should adopt as well. We should always be willing to help others and to do what is necessary, not just what is expedient. You will never become great by doing what’s easy. You have to be willing to pay a price that others won’t. As a Christian, that often comes in loving others as you love yourself.

Timothy was the Apostle Paul’s apprentice in the faith and in ministry. In his second letter to him, Paul gives him advice similar to the Boy Scout’s motto. II Timothy 4:2 says, “Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching” (NLT). His message then and now is to quit waiting for an opportune time to share your faith or help someone out. Do it now!

The time for preparation is before the times are hard. When a disaster is imminent, people rush to the stores and buy what they can in a panic. They may have what you need or they may be sold out. That is not preparation, that’s desperation. Where I live, we know hurricane season is June 1 – November 30. We know that sooner or later one will come. It’s better to be prepared before one enters the Gulf of Mexico. If you wait until it’s too late, you’re going to suffer.

That was Paul’s message to Timothy. He tołd him there was a storm coming. “For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.” Since that time was coming, Timothy needed to be prepared to use the Word of God to correct, rebuke, and encourage. With a storm time coming, the time to prepare was now.

For us, there is a time quickly approaching like there was for Timothy. When that time gets here, it says that people will not listen to sound doctrine. We can no longer afford to wait for an opportune time to correct, rebuke, and encourage our family members, co-workers, or friends. We must get an urgency about us like Noah had to get people into the Ark. The night is coming and we need to be prepared. We need to be prepared to preach the Word of God now with our mouths and our lives. Eternity depends on it.

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Heavy Lifting

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Have you ever tried to carry something that was too heavy for you? I’m not talking about something you couldn’t lift. I’m talking about something that you could hold, but not for very long. You struggle to lift it, with each step you exhale trying to manage the weight and size of the object. You can only go a few feet before you have to set it down, take a breather, look at how much further you have to go and then try again. You repeat the process over and over until you finally reach your destination. It’s exhausting and can give you medical problems if it’s too heavy or too far.

Imagine carrying that same object and a friend comes over. They see you struggle and instead of offering help, they offer suggestions on how to carry it better. “Lift with your legs, not your back,” they say. How does that make you feel? Clearly they see you struggling, but they are doing nothing to help you. It gets frustrating. How about if instead of helping you they cheered you on? How would that make you feel? “Come on! I know you can do it! You’ve got this.” While it might help morally, it still doesn’t help with the problem.

What you really want when you’re struggling like that is for them to say, “Hey, let me give you a hand.” When they grab the other side, the weight is halved. Suddenly it’s more bearable than it was. You may be able to go a little bit further before you have to set it down. Their physically helping you with the object is a lot more useful than telling you how to do it or encouraging you to do it. Would you agree? Then why do we do the first two when we see someone struggling with heavy burdens?

I once heard a person say, “With a friend, joy is doubled and pain is halved.” I could also add burdens are halved. Galatians 6:2 says, “Help to carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will obey the law of Christ.” It didn’t tell us just to encourage someone who is carrying a burden or to tell them how to carry it. We are told to help them carry it. When someone is carrying a burden, it’s a lot like that large object. They may only be able to take a few steps before they’re exhausted. They may not feel like they’re making progress. While words of encouragement are nice, helping them with the heavy lifting is what’s needed.

Think of a time when you’ve had a heavy burden. What is it that you wished people had done for you? Go and do that for someone else. When I see others who are going through something I’ve been through, my first thoughts are, “What did people do that made me mad? What did I wish people had done.” I then go and try to do the second instead of the first. It’s important that we look around us today to see which friends are struggling. While a word of encouragement is nice and a few tips on how to bear the burden is great, I’m sure they’d love some help with the heavy lifting.

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