Archives For Benevolence

Image Credit

grass

You are growing toward eternity, and that being true, you must live toward eternity with all of your life. The beautiful virtues of Christ, taught as He delivered the Sermon on the Mount, as He shared the story of the Good Samaritan, as taught in Matthew 25, can all be lived by the Spirit of God working in us, and through us.

When we feed the hungry in our broken world, we are pointing ahead to the future where there will be no more hunger. When we give water to the thirsty in the present, we are pointing ahead to the future where there will be no more thirst. When we clothe the naked in our midst, we are pointing ahead to the future where there will be no more want.

Most importantly, when we live God’s kingdom virtues in the present-day, we bring God the most glory, and show the world that His kingdom is at work right now among them. As a Christ follower, you are filled with God’s Spirit. Anywhere and everywhere you go, the Spirit of God is alive, and yearning to work God’s love through you. His love cast out all fear and evil. His love drives out the darkness and fills the voids of the wounded.

Beauty breaks through the thin vile that separates heaven and the earth when we live the prayer, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” When we live that prayer, the image of God is not distorted, but clear, powerful and complaining.

How will you live? The way you live follows you into the kingdom.

Image Credit

giving

2 Corinthians 8:1-7 is worth a slow read. These verses are packed with the grace of God to give under extreme circumstances. It is a beautifully convicting and humbling portion of scripture.

 

In verse 7, Paul is encouraging believers to excel in “this act of grace.” The act of grace Paul is referring to is the Macedonia Churches have given under punishing circumstances by the grace of God. Verse 2 tells us they were in a severe test of affliction, and extreme poverty. However, generosity overflowed in abundance in spite of their present hardships.

 

Paul is showing that when God takes ordinary people, and throws in a full measure of His extraordinary grace, and then throws in a full measure of the power, and guidance of the Holy Spirit, you have a recipe of all things possible.

 

Often when it comes to preaching about giving, many pastors come across as begging and desperate when asking their congregation to give. They end up using guilt to motivate them to give. However, that case is not true of the Macedonia Churches.

 

I once read where an old ancient Greek preacher speaking on this very passage said, “They did the begging, not Paul.” Isn’t that amazing! They begged to give. How incredible would it be if Christ-followers would beg to give to the causes of God’s kingdom, instead of being coached into given by man’s wisdom?

 

What would happen if we begged God to be able to give instead of the preacher begging God’s people to give? We would be like the Macedonian Churches caught up in the grace of God working through us.

 

Often when we think of grace, we think only in terms of God’s grace working in us and for us. However, that is not all that grace is for. Grace also works through us for His glory. Part of that grace is the grace of giving.

 

It takes grace to receiving anything from the Lord and it takes His same grace to surrender it back to Him. We love holding on to what God gives us like it’s our own. Grace for you, and in you, is an undeserved Gift of God, but grace through you is its purpose. You can’t lose what you give to God.

 

In verse 1 of 2 Corinthians 8 we read, “We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia.” The root of given is not money; the root of giving is the grace of God.

 

What is God’s grace capable of producing? It will produce people that give, and beg to give no matter the hardships. In verse 4 we read, “begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints…” There it is! By the power of grace, they begged to give and didn’t need to be manipulated to give.

 

How is this type of giving possible? The answer is found in verse 5. “…they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.” There you have it. When you give yourself first to God, you always give your best. N.T. Wright speaking on this passage says, “Paul phrases his entire appeal, not in terms of money, but in terms of grace.”

 

Grace is what God does for us, and in us, but we must never forget that it is also what God does through us. The next time you struggle to give remember the grace of God and giving will come easy.

Do You Notice?

February 22, 2013 — Leave a comment

noticeme

One of the greatest comforts the Bible demonstrates is that Jesus takes pleasure in breaking away from the crowd to take care of the individual. It is simply impossible to be lost from Him in a crowd. In Mark 5: 24-34, we read the story of a woman in the crowd.

We are told that she had suffered for many years. In fact, she had been suffering for twelve years. Her condition was growing worse daily, and she was out of money. We are told that she touched the cloak of Jesus and immediately she was healed. Jesus felt power issuing from Himself. Jesus then turns to look for who touched him. Once she is identified, by falling at his feet, the real miracle takes place. She is validated in front of everyone.

As soon as Jesus was face to face with this woman the crowd faded into the background; the crowd was forgotten and there seem to be no one there but Jesus and her. She had His full attention. Now that is the true miracle simply because she had captured the full consideration of God. You see, the world is still full of people lost in the crowd, and they are searching for their healing. They are waiting for someone to give them the same attention God gave this woman in Mark 5.

We are called to notice people. We must stop walking by the suffering because we are afraid to emerge from our schedules. Someone in your path today needs to be noticed, and God wants to use you to meet them. Think about it. Life is short, and each day must count.

Wright, Steve (2012-03-18). The Descent To Compassion (pp. 47-48).  . Kindle Edition.

Buy the book

Learn more

Invisible-People-5-600x600

Philippians 2:19-23
19 But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. 20 For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. 21 For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus. 22 But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel. 23 Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me.

Paul looked around his spiritual table and saw in Timothy a heart that was faithful, available and teachable. Paul saw a heart in Timothy that noticed the unnoticed of the world. Paul was confident in Timothy that he truly was a man that could see the invisible of the world and love them with the love of Christ.

When you first read this portion of scripture it looks like ordinary traveling plans, but when you lift the hood and look into the engine that actually drives this passage you see the heart of God that is undivided beating inside Timothy. Timothy didn’t seek  his own interest first; he first looked after the things of God. Paul said, “I have no one like-minded…” In other words, when he looked for an undivided heart around his table he found Timothy.

Let me ask you a question today. If you were sitting around Paul’s table would he have picked you? At first, it’s easy to answer yes, but don’t be to quick to pat yourself on the back-myself included. We are called to see the unnoticed and to respond with the love of Christ. In order to see them and love them with action, we must have an undivided heart of obedience.

Have you ever noticed a person that is outside your circle and alone? You see them and know in your heart they need someone to reach out to them but instead of taking a few moments to encourage them, you pass on by. Has that ever happened to you? You know God is leading you to talk with them, but you go in another direction, thus untimely saying no to God.

I’m always amazed at how demons obey God; nature always obeys God, but man struggles with it. I challenge you today to make a commitment to obey God and notice the unnoticed of the world around you. I challenge you today to see the invisible and love them with the love of Christ. I challenge you because I challenge myself to do the same also. It’s just too easy to walk on by, and as Christ followers we must change that quickly.

God is looking around His table for an undivided heart. He is looking of a heart for the invisible.  Will He choose you today? Will you obey?

love1

When you find yourself around a self-centered person, the easy thing to do is withhold love. Show them God’s love regardless. They may not want to experience that kind of love but give it nonetheless.

The act of compassion you do toward others may not be remembered by them but do it anyway. You will be vulnerable when you move in the way God moves but walk His way anyhow.

What you give away to others might not return to you in the form of a blessing but give abundantly notwithstanding. It makes you smell like God’s servant.

From the cross,  we see true agape love.  Luke 23:34 we read, 34 “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.”

Just a few thoughts from me to you.

bookcoverkindled2c

That so many Christians are satisfied with only a vertical relationship with God and feel no pull to the horizontal mission field they live in daily astonishes me. Ministry happens only in their lives by accident instead of on purpose. The problem is, God is not satisfied with that kind of life because He has created good works for them to be part of every day, if they would only look on the harvest field Jesus spoke of. We must remember God never sleeps, and He never slumbers. He is watchful and waiting on you to enter the field.

When I was a young man, my father bought some land and had a vision to farm it. We cleared several acres over several summers, and we had it stocked with many animals. The highlight of the acreage was our field of sweet potatoes – three acres of sweet potatoes! For those of you who love math, that is 14,520 sq yards of blood, sweat and tears. My father had a rightful expectation that the field would produce. After all, that is what a field that has been planted should do when it is looked after with care. I can remember working hard in the field alongside my father. I can still see his face now and the joy he got from the expected future.

When he would leave to run into town or some other errand, he would always say to my brother and me, “Work hard boys, I’ll be back.” We knew exactly what my father meant. He would be returning, and we were expected to continue working the field as though he was right beside of us. My brother and I would always try to work harder while he was gone so that when our father returned he would be well pleased. What brought him joy brought us joy. Why did my father work so hard? Why did my brother and I work so hard? There was a purpose; there was a future harvest. We simply wanted to see the greatest harvest possible. I know God the Father wants the same from us. He wants to seek the lost through us. That is what God desires to do through every believer. All He needs from you is the promise that He can interrupt you anytime and anywhere. When He gets you to that place, you will become a page being written under His mighty hand, and when the chapter is completed, all of Heaven will celebrate. What are you waiting on? The fields are white for harvest … get going. He is waiting on you.

 

Wright, Steve (2012-03-18). The Descent To Compassion (pp. 68-69).  . Kindle Edition.

You can purchase a copy of The Descent to Compassion on Amazon. Click Here

Do It Anyway

December 18, 2012 — 2 Comments

Do-It-Anyway

We are to reflect God to the world. We are called to be the salt of the earth and a light that is not hidden. We are called to love. We are called to joy. We are called to peace. We are called to forbearance. We are called to kindness. We are called to goodness. We are called to faithfulness. We are called to gentleness. We are called to self-control. In Short, we are called to be like Him in front of a world that desperately needs to see Him.

At times, you will think being all the above-mentioned things don’t matter. You will see the world hate you even when you live a life that reflects God. However, do it anyway. You live as a reflection first for Him, and then for others. In the end, it will be to Him you will give an account and not to the people of the world.

Mother Teresa said it best when she wrote, ““People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”

Called To The Gap

December 6, 2012 — 2 Comments

bridge-the-gap
As Christ followers, we follow Christ. That being said, never forget that Jesus is also found walking in mission fields beyond North America and we must follow there also.

You may not be able to travel to mission fields far away, but you can give to them. When your giving is done with God’s love it becomes a demonstration of His grace, mercy to the world beyond your shorelines.

God has called each of us to fill the gap between North America and the rest of the world. As I mentioned a moment ago, you may not be able to travel abroad, but you can give to them. Your money can travel.

God has His missionaries placed throughout the world. They are His servants that live the message of His love out every day in some of the poorest places on earth. They need your help to stay there. Deep in your heart you know they are out there and deep in your heart you can feel the commitment calling you to give more.

2 Corinthians 9:7
tells us, “Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver”

I give to missions. I’ve been on the mission field many times. Yes, there are works to be done at our own doorstep, but our doorstep also opens to the entire world. We have in North America the funding to completely change the world if each of us would do just a little.

I’m sure you have a desire to give, but maybe there is something standing in the way of your giving. You have a life to live. You have bills to pay. You have dreams to accomplish. All of those are fine, but missions should be part of that plan.

When you invest in missions, I’m convinced that God smiles. We must remember that God has called us to the world that is beyond our local world also.

I end with the following quote from David Livingstone who said, “God had an only Son and He made Him a missionary”

Will you follow? Will you go? Will you give? I know you will because all of us are called to the gap in some way or another.

Bless People Small

July 24, 2012 — 2 Comments

Screen Shot 2012-07-24 at 8.53.32 AM

Many people walk through their day wanting to bless others but the excuse of not having anything big to give often gets in the way. The logic behind that kind of thinking is clear to see. It goes something like this in our heads, if I don’t have anything big to give or say…I’ll just walk on by and wait until a better prepared time.

Never forget my dear Christ follower that God is in the small things also. That very small act of kindness might just be what the other person needed to get through an otherwise horrible day. I challenge you today to look for ways to bless people small. You might just be surprised at how a big God fits into small things.

Here’s a small list that God can and will use in a big way.

  •  Pay for the meal of the car behind you at the fast food drive through
  •  Leave an extra large tip for a waiter or waitress with a note of thanks
  •  Give up your seat for someone in a waiting room
  •  Listen to someone who is going through a tough time
  •  Write a note to a family member telling them why you love them
  •  Text someone an inspirational quote
  •  Offer a compliment to a stranger

Those are just a few I’ve borrowed over the years. I’m sure you can come up with many more. Just remember…God is in the small things also.

What’s are your thoughts? What small acts of kindness have you done? Leave a comment.

Today is part 4 and the final post in this series on witnessing and working among the forgotten of the world.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Listening and Co-suffering are lost gifts that need to be recovered in our witnessing.

listening5_full

Through Listening We Witness

When I speak of listening I mean to be able to hear their secret hurts covered by multifaceted learned responses coupled by years of denial. I do my best to listen in such a way as to pick up on where they are truly wounded in their emotions by paying careful attention to each and every statement they are making.

I’m looking for where their life is unadjusted to the work of the Spirit of God.  I am convinced to find true and lasting healing a person must adjust their life to what God wants to do in their life. Once I have listened to them and  feel I have heard where they are truly wounded. I like to walk them through Romans 8:26-28.

 

Through Co-suffering We Witness

The bible says in Romans 8:26-28 “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

This portion of scripture has over the years become very powerful for me in walking people right into the very presence of God. For me, this passage shows that without the leading of the Spirit of God, the perfect will of God, which I believe to bring lasting peace and joy, cannot fully be realized. It would do well at this point to pause and insert a thought. By speaking of lasting peace and joy I am in no way saying trouble or conflict will completely disappear from a person’s life. In fact, it is my belief that some hurt and pain this side of heaven will find its ultimate healing only when we find ourselves in His presence face to face.

Romans 8:26-28 is very power when applied to our life and the lives of those we are witnessing to. Notice verse 26 says, “the Spirit helps us in our weakness.” This is an incredible picture of the Spirit involved in the believer’s life by co-suffering. The Spirit of God actually comes along side of a believer and walks with them through their pain.

Another reason this verse is great to use is found in verse 26 because we are told that we don’t even truly know how to pray the perfect will of God for our lives without the help of the Spirit, who according to verse 27, searches our heart and knows the mind of the Spirit-then intercession is made according to God’s will.

Then and only then can Verse 28  be fulfilled which again says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” I love using this portion of scripture because I believe it truly demonstrates God centered witnessing by showing a person that God by His Spirit is truly connected with the believer’s everyday walk. At this point I’ve found it’s much easier to lead someone to Christ or minister to someone that is in Christ but has simply lost their way.

 

How are you at listening and Co-suffering? Do you think you listening well? Do you Co-suffer well? Leave a commit and share your thoughts with others.