My wife and I watched History Channel’s “Men Who Built America”. The show discusses several titans of industry during Reconstruction after the Civil War up to the early 1900’s. It was incredible to see what these men did and how they operated. It was also eye opening how they would do anything to make money. Because of them, we have a lot of the labor and antitrust laws. They were often ruthless in their pursuit, but two men changed their tune as they got older and began trying to make a difference by give away their fortune to philanthropic causes and charities. J.P. Morgan gave away around $900 million in today’s money and John D. Rockefeller gave away around $540 million. To this day their philanthropic causes live on.
In Luke 16, Jesus told the story of a rich man who had a manager of his affairs. It turned out the manager was wasting the money so the rich man called him to account. The guy was afraid of being unemployed and didn’t want to beg so he cut what each person owed with all of his boss’s debtors. He figured he would make friends before he left so that he would have a place to land. The boss was impressed with how shrewd he was. Then in verse 9, Jesus said, “Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home” (NLT). While Jesus doesn’t discourage us from being rich or making money, He does encourage us to give and make a difference with what we have.
In the next two verses Jesus continued, “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven?” Sometimes we think we need to be rich to make a difference or to give, but this verse clearly tells us to be faithful with what we have, even if it’s a little. Many of us pursue more money and better jobs, but how can we handle that if we’re not making a difference with what we have. The same is true with our spiritual gifts. Many people look for ministries that are in the spotlight or get lots of attention, but God is looking to see if we can be faithful when no one sees. When we are faithful with a little, He trusts us with a lot.
Who do you know that challenges you to do more for God? There are certain people I look at that cause me to want to do more for God’s Kingdom. One sees a need and immediately jumps in and starts a ministry filling the need. When others jump in and run along side him, he hands off the ministry to one of them and looks for another need. It’s such a stark contrast to how so many people do ministry. I asked him about it once. He said, “All ministry belongs to God so I keep an open hand with it. When people come along side who are more passionate and gifted than I am in it, I give it to them and ask God what’s next.” Something like that causes me to look around with different eyes looking to see what God wants to do around me and through me to do good.
In the Bible, Solomon realized he couldn’t be as good of a king to the people as his father David was. He prayed for wisdom to help him be a good king. Peter and John challenged the early Church to look for opportunities everywhere. The healing of the beggar they were passing by at the Gate Beautiful in Acts 3:6 is a great example. Paul and Barnabas set off on long journeys going where God told them to go in order to spread the Gospel throughput the known world. Each of these people drew their inspiration from someone and also inspired others to lead more productive lives that touched the lives of others. I believe that’s what God is calling us to do even today.
Hebrews 10:24 says, “Let us be concerned for one another, to help one another to show love and to do good” (GNT). As believers, we must be concerned for someone other than ourselves. We need to be looking to the fields with eyes that are open and hearts that ask, “Who can I show your love to today, Father?” We need to be encouraging other believers, especially in the times we live in. Send a text today to someone who needs it. Make a meal for a family in need. Show love to someone who clearly has been overlooked by society. There is opportunity everywhere for you to show love and do good, but you must quit looking to your own needs and desires long enough to see it. God has given us as believers a great opportunity in the world today to rise up and show concern and His love. What will you do?
There’s a comedian named Michael Junior who I listen to from time to time. Not only is he funny, he also shares his faith and encourages believers. In one of his shows, he described how he used to think about seven jokes ahead in his act. In between the jokes, while people were laughing, he began to ask God, “What can i give this crowd? What do you want to say?” It changed how he did comedy and the lives of people who go to his shows. God began to point out people in the audience for him to minister to. Sometimes what God spoke to him was for the whole audience. He calls this, “Listening in the gaps.”
Each of us have gaps in our day and in our life. It can be between customers, between reports, between classes, etc. Too often we fill our gaps with music, books, conversation and more. We’ve become good at keeping our mind occupied at all times, which keeps us from being still, listening to God or even asking Him what He’s saying. God is always speaking and He’s always wanting to use us, but we must learn to listen and to ask. In the gaps, we need to say what Samuel said, “Speak, Lord. Your servant is listening” (1Samuel 3:10). When we do that it will change how we give ourselves to others and to do some things we may not have normally done.
Psalms 85:8 says, “Now I’ll listen carefully for your voice and wait to hear whatever you say” (TPT). When you ask God to speak to you, He will. He may ask you to do something you think is crazy or He might ask you to speak life to someone. Whatever it is, remember that we must obey without hesitation. You may never know what is on the other side of your obedience or how you will affect someone’s life. I believe God is calling each one of us to make a difference in the lives of people around us and in our path. In order to do that, we have to be praying and listening in the gaps. Look for where your gaps are today and ask God to speak to you. I’d love to hear back how God used you.
If you’d like to see Michael Junior discuss this, click here.
Waco is a small town in Texas. It has always been a place you would only go to if you had a reason to go. It was showing its age until recently when Chip and Joanna Gaines show “Fixer Upper” became a hit. As this Christian couple began to update houses with their unique style, people began to want to visit Waco. Today, it’s a thriving town with people from all over taking vacation there. The city has been transformed by the influx of money coming into it. Buildings have been updated, businesses have moved in and home prices are on the rise. All of this happened because of one family.
The Bible tells us how cities, nations and even the world were impacted by God’s people. Jerusalem was in ruins until Nehemiah built the walls around the city. Wherever Joseph worked as a slave or prisoner, it prospered. Gideon took Israel from being the nation others picked on to being a strong nation. The list goes on and on of people who followed God and changed the culture around them. When you and I do walk in obedience to God’s voice, we can’t help but make an impact on the people around us.
Proverbs 11:11 says, “The blessing of favor resting upon the righteous influences a city to lift it higher” (TPT)”. When I read this verse, I can’t help but to be challenged to think if I’m making the impact in my city that I need to be. Each one of us as believers have the favor of God resting on us, but what are we doing with that favor? Are we being selfish with it or are we trying to impact the world around us? The Bible is clear that when we invest that favor in the lives of others, it’s multiplied. The blessings of God have been freely given to you so that you can use them to influence your city. When we leave our scarcity mentality and quit hoarding God’s blessings, we’ll change the culture of our communities, cities, states and nations.
We’ve all heard the saying that actions speak louder than words. We can probably all think of someone who is all talk and no action too. We have very little confidence in people who rarely do what they say. You never know when to believe them. I’ve had friends, coworkers and acquaintances who are like this. It’s no fun to be associated with them because it creates a lack of trust in you as a person. I don’t ever want to be known as a person like that. I want to be known as a person who does what they say or can at least own up to it when I can’t deliver on what I promised.
As Christians, we need to be concerned about our reputation because we don’t just carry our name with us. We also bear the name of Jesus Christ. It’s not just our reputation we’re tarnishing, it’s His. Knowing that, our lives should reflect the work He’s done and is doing in our lives. The love He’s shown us should be something we give out each day. 1 John 3:18 says, “My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality“ (MSG).
A life lead by love is one that doesn’t just talk about loving others, it does it. It shows up in the smallest ways throughout our day. Too many times we try to think of doing great things to the point that it keeps us from doing anything. I love the quote by Mother Teresa that says, “We can’t all do great things, but we can all do small things with great love.” If you and I will focus on doing small things today, showing God’s great love, we will make a difference in the lives of others. Doing great things isn’t what makes the difference in life. It’s doing the small things consistently. Today, look for something small you can do with great love, and bless someone.
I’ve never met anyone who said, “I don’t care if my life doesn’t matter.” Each of us in some way want our lives to matter. We want to live significant lives. We want to make a difference. When we die, we want the world to be different because we were here. I believe that’s how most of us, if not all of us think about our lives. When we feel like we are making a difference, we are riding high. We feel most insignificant when we don’t think anyone notices us or that we aren’t making a difference. We feel worthless when we aren’t appreciated. Our feelings are tied to how significant we think our lives are.
If we want to live significant lives, we should see what God says about it. James 4:10 says, “Humble yourselves (feeling very insignificant) in the sight of The Lord, and He will exalt you (He will lift you up and make your lives significant) (AMP).” So the way to really live a significant life is to feel insignificant in the sight of The Lord. It’s when we humble ourselves before God that He can begin to do something significant with us. Until then, we are out seeking to live a significant live to get the glory ourselves.
When we humble ourselves, we let God know that we understand we are nothing without Him. We show Him that we recognize that all we have is given to us by Him. Being humble in His sight is understanding that our talents, our jobs, our income, our skills are all a gift from Him. It’s not because of anything we’ve done. It’s not because we are self made people. Our lives can only become eternally significant when we stop and recognize that He is the source of everything we have. When we recognize that, we won’t be out seeking glory for ourselves. We’ll be doing things for His glory.
It’s hard for us to think that way because it’s the opposite of what we know in this world. Our culture says that we should promote ourselves, get all the praise we can, get recognized at every opportunity in order to feel significant. But God says it’s not until we feel insignificant that we can be significant. He says if we seek out praise for ourselves, we have our reward. We then have to choose, are we after a temporary praise from people or are we after the eternal praise from God? The significance of your life rests in how you answer that question. Charles Studd wrote, “Only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.”
If you’re living your life to be significant so people will know your name, your memory will be gone not long after you die. If you’re living your life so people will know His name, what you do will be remembered for eternity. Our search for living significant lives begins and ends with being humble in the sight of The Lord. He can’t lift us up until we’ve recognized our lowly estate. If you truly want to leave the world different than when you came, do everything for God’s glory, not your own. Seek to make Him known instead of yourself. That’s how you live a significant life.
On one of my previous trips to Haiti, as we were beginning our final decent into Port au Prince, one of the young ladies on our team looked over at me and said, “Listo para Cristo.” If you’re unfamiliar with Spanish, she literally said, “I’m ready for Christ.” What she was saying was that she was ready to see Him and to be used by Him on that trip. She was opening herself up to His will in her life. That’s a great way to live and really should be the mantra for our lives each day.
When I think of bring ready for Christ, I think of the parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew 25. They were all waiting for the groom to show up for the marriage feast. When he was delayed, they fell asleep. At midnight, the cry rang out that he was coming. Five of them realized that they didn’t have enough oil for their lamps. The other five were ready for whatever. They had extra just in case he was delayed. The five without oil left to buy more, but while they were gone, he showed up. The five who were ready went in with him. Jesus concluded that parable with, “You, too, must be ready.”
Not only do we have to be ready for Him to come, we must be ready to do what He asks when He asks. Romans 12:13 says, “When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them.” Being ready doesn’t mean when the need arises, you go get everything you need. It means you are prepared beforehand. You need to be mentally prepared to help anyone that God lays on your heart to help. Pray and ask God to keep your eyes open to those who may need your help today. That’s the first step in being ready.
Another step in being ready is to have some funds ready to be disposed of in order to help. I know a man who carries a hundred dollars in his wallet at all times for the sole purpose of giving it away. He wants to be ready to meet the needs of anyone God brings into his path. What he’s doing is not just being ready, he’s putting extra oil in his lamp so that he is ready for whatever. I know a hundred dollars is a lot for many. Pray and ask God how much you should keep on you in order to be ready. You never know when God is going to put someone in your life who needs you to buy some gas, get some groceries, pay for their lunch or to just sit down and listen to them.
Listo para Cristo is a way of life. It’s how God wants each of us to live. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that no matter what your circumstances are, there is always someone who has it worse than you. We are without excuse when it comes to being ready to help others. We have the opportunity right now to do something to get ready to be used by Christ. You can begin by praying and asking God to use you. Then have something on you to give out. It can be cash, it can be a gift card, a stroller you don’t use, a bag of canned goods or anything that God puts on your heart. If you’re going to be used by God in the future, the time to get ready is now.