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Posts tagged ‘Helping Others’

A Bother…and a Joy – Energy and Rewards

Helping OthersThe verses we’re focusing in on are embedded in Jesus’ teaching about loving our enemies.

Of course, you can’t “fall into” this kind of love; it takes a conscious act of the will. But so does demonstrating love to others around us who are more neutral.

Today we look at the energy required for this kind of involvement—and the rewards promised.

Interact with God’s Word

Luke 6:30-34, 36, 38

  1. Being kind and thoughtful to your family and friends requires a fair amount of effort. Do Jesus’ words in verses 32-33 seem harsh?
  2. Does expecting you to extend your favors to those who are hostile or demanding (v. 30) seem reasonable?
  3. How does the “golden rule” (v. 31) move beyond the usual belief that you should avoid harming others?
  4. According to verse 36, does the requirement that you care for others in this way depend on whether they deserve it? What is it based on?
  5. Would you describe your level of caring and giving as a small or large measure (v. 38)?
  6. Have you experienced the payback for investing in others’ lives that Jesus described? Can you give an example?

Spend Time in Prayer: Ask God to expand your willingness to deliberately invest in others, and your joy in seeing fruit in their lives.

Luke 6:30-34, 36, 38

30 “Give what you have to anyone who asks you for it; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. 31 Do for others as you would like them to do for you. 32 Do you think you deserve credit merely for loving those who love you? Even the sinners do that!

33 And if you do good only to those who do good to you, is that so wonderful? Even sinners do that much! 34 And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, what good is that? Even sinners will lend to their own kind for a full return.

36 You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.

38 If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use in giving—large or small—it will be used to measure what is given back to you.”

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me break loose from my usual schedule enough to savor serving someone else.

A Bother…and a Joy – Buckling by the Book

Baby on AirplaneKey Bible Verse: Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it. James 4:17

Bonus Reading:  Matthew 21:28-31a

Beat after two weeks of Calcutta’s filth and heat, Doug Nichols boarded the clean, air-conditioned Thai jumbo jet. His seat flanked an empty center section, where he anticipated stretching out after takeoff. But then workers streamed into the cabin carrying large baskets, and set one on each vacant seat. Babies! Two per basket. Close to 100 orphans for adoption, with only two Indian caretakers.

As they taxied, an alarmed flight attendant yelled excitedly in Thai at one uncomprehending caretaker. Grasping the problem, Doug reached across, fastened the belt over a basket, went to the next, buckled it … row after row. Securing the last basket, he jumped into his seat as the plane lifted off.

“You must really like babies!” exclaimed his seatmate.

“Not particularly.”

“Then why’d you do that?”

“I didn’t want to sin.”

“What’s buckling babies got to do with sin?”

“I’m a Christian,” said Doug, “and try to live the way God tells me. His Word says ‘Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.'”

“You sure that’s in the Bible?” he asked, skeptically.

“I sure hope so,” said Doug, opening his New Testament, pointing, and sharing the gospel with his seatmate all the way to Bangkok.

—Phil Callaway in Who Put My Life on Fast-Forward?

My Response: What would help me see and respond to needs more quickly?

Thought to Apply: We say we must do all we can. Jesus says we must let God do all we can.—Oswald Chambers

Adapted from Who Put My Life on Fast-Forward? (Harvest, 2002)

Prayer for the Week:  Lord, help me break loose from my usual schedule enough to savor serving someone else.

A Bother…and a Joy – High Fives

Sunday School TeacherKey Bible Verse: Who is adequate for such a task as this? 2 Corinthians 2:16

Bonus Reading:  2 Corinthians 2:14-3:5

You’re a scoutmaster.  Surely you can handle fifth-grade Sunday schoolers.”  And that’s how Bill became a volunteer.

“I was a new Christian and was worried that I didn’t know enough. I started with an easy story—Noah. I knew I had to keep the boys busy. We researched the ark and built a scale papier-mâché model six feet long. We went to a lake to study how a flood affects an area. As I struggled with how to teach the Bible, the Holy Spirit taught those kids through me.”

The class asked Bill to move up with them when they went to sixth grade, and he was honored. Now that first class is grown; four of those boys are spending their lives in full-time Christian service.

There is no greater calling than teacher, no more important job in the church. But it’s easy to miss the “high fives from God” that every Sunday school teacher receives. “There’s no way I could have been that good a teacher,” Bill said. “The Lord knew I needed the encouragement of success at that early point in my Christian life, and He helped me. I’ve got a word for new teachers. Don’t be overwhelmed. With God’s help, you’ll never be inadequate.”

—Marlene LeFever, Cook Communications Ministries

My Response: A way I’d consider being stretched is by taking on _____.

Thought to Apply:  Significance is making a difference in the lives of people over time.—Phil Downer (Discipleship Network of America president)

Adapted from Christian Education Article Service (Cook, 2002)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me break loose from my usual schedule enough to savor serving someone else.

A Bother…and a Joy – Whom God Uses

Retirement Home WorshipKey Bible Verse: All we say about ourselves is that we are your servants because of what Jesus has done for us.  – 2 Corinthians 4:5

Bonus Reading:  Matthew 25:31-40

[continued from yesterday]  When I left Carl, an aide asked if I’d visit Alex in his room. Alex’s body is permanently twisted from cerebral palsy. I remembered his efforts at previous services to sing the hymns and the joy that radiated from his disfigured face at hearing God’s Word.

As Alex struggled to shape his words, I tried to understand. We talked about the goodness of God. I happened to look up at the room’s two closet doors. One said ALEX, the other CARL. Then it dawned on me. Carl’s attendance at the worship service must have been the result of his being Alex’s roommate.

I told Alex that Carl had just prayed to receive Christ. Alex threw his head back and grinned from ear to ear, excited that God had used him.

That Sunday afternoon, Norma and I discovered that we don’t have to look far to bless someone else. All we need is to be willing to serve, and God will direct.

Through the requests of residents and with the backing of our church, Norma and I were given permission to conduct weekly Bible readings at the nursing home. I spent time with Carl, prayed with him, and watched as he faded from the effects of his stroke. Alex remains a faithful group member.

—Dave Pagani in Decision

My Response: Today, I’ll ask God to direct me to someone I can bless.

Thought to Apply: No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it for anyone else.—Charles Dickens (English novelist)

Adapted from Decision (6/01, Billy Graham Evangelistic Assoc.)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me break loose from my usual schedule enough to savor serving someone else.

A Bother…and a Joy – Nixed Nap

Retirement Home WorshipKey Bible Verse:  Serve each other in humility, for “God sets himself against the proud, but he shows favor to the humble.”1 Peter 5:5

Bonus Reading:  Luke 14:7-14

As my wife, Norma, and I drove to church on a spring Sunday morning, I was just getting over jet lag from a long overseas trip. So I was anticipating a quiet, peaceful afternoon. But then I remembered that today was our church’s turn to hold the afternoon worship service at a local nursing home. I needed the rest, I kept telling myself; but as Norma and I talked, we decided we’d be at the nursing home.

After the service, we mingled and chatted with the residents. Carl, an 86-year-old who’d suffered a stroke, sat quietly in his wheelchair with his face lowered, his hymnal still in his lap. I went over to say hello. As he looked up, I saw distress on his face. So I asked, “Do you know if you’re on your way to heaven?”

“I hope so.”

“Would you like to know for sure?”

“Yes” he answered clearly and emphatically, “but no one’s ever told me how.”

I opened my Bible, read several verses, and told Carl how Jesus had willingly died on the cross to pay for all our sin. Carl prayed for forgiveness and surrendered to Jesus. An 86-year-old, tears rolling down his face, had joined God’s family as a newborn. [continued tomorrow]

—Dave Pagani in Decision

My Response: When did I last let another’s needs trump my convenient routine?

Thought to Apply: You are never weary, O Lord, of doing us good. Let us never be weary of serving You.—JOHN WESLEY (founder of Methodism)

Adapted from Decision (6/01, Billy Graham Evangelistic Assoc.)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me break loose from my usual schedule enough to savor serving someone else.

A Bother…and a Joy – Whump!

Black JaguarKey Bible Verse:  Dear children, let us stop saying we love each other; let us really show it by our actions.  – 1 John 3:18

Bonus Reading:  James 2:14-18

As Josh was sailing down a Chicago neighborhood street in his two-months-old, 12-cylinder Jaguar XKE, a brick sailed through the air and struck its shiny, black passenger door. Brakes slammed, gears ground into reverse, and tires spun the Jaguar back to the spot from which the missile had been launched.

The young executive jumped out, grabbed the kid, and pushed him against a fender. “That’s my new Jag,” he shouted. “That brick you threw is gonna cost you lots of money!”

“I’m sorry, mister! No one would stop! I didn’t know what else to do,” the youngster sobbed, pointing. “It’s my brother. He rolled off the curb, fell out of his wheelchair, and is hurt. He’s too heavy for me. Please, help me lift him back.”

Josh’s head of steam evaporated. Straining, he lifted the boy’s brother into the wheelchair, wiped the scrapes and cuts with his handkerchief, and checked to see that there was no serious injury. He then watched the younger brother push the wheelchair down the sidewalk toward their home.

Josh never did fix his door. He kept the dent to remind him not to go through life so fast that someone would have to throw a brick to get his attention.

—Skip Heitzig in Jesus Up Close

My Response: Someone I know whose actions reveal an urgent need for my help is _____.

Adapted from Jesus Up Close (Tyndale, 2001)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me break loose from my usual schedule enough to savor serving someone else.

A Bother…and a Joy – A Good Heart, But…

Church People Helping PeopleWho Said It…Max Lucado

Max’s beer-drinking, girl-chasing lifestyle was as barren as the West Texas land he grew up in.

Then he encountered Jesus through a required Bible course at Abilene Christian University. He abruptly shifted from law studies to missions preparation.

After five years in Brazil with his wife, Denalyn, he returned to pastor in the U.S. A collection of storytelling columns written for a church newsletter formed his first book in a long string of best-sellers.

Max is pulpit minister of the Oak Hills Church in San Antonio.

What He Said…A Good Heart, But …

(Scene—Sunday a.m. assembly; silent prayer)

Max: God, I want to do great things.

God: You do?

Max: You bet! I want to teach millions! I want to fill the Rose Bowl! I want all the world to know Your saving power! I dream of the day …

God: That’s great, Max. In fact, I can use you today after church.

Max: Super! How about some radio and television work or—or—or an engagement to speak to Congress?

God: Well, that’s not exactly what I had in mind. See that fellow sitting next to you?

Max: Yes.

God: He needs a ride home.

Max (quietly): What?

God: He needs a ride home. And while you’re at it, one of the older ladies sitting near you is worried about getting a refrigerator moved. Why not drop by this afternoon and …

Max (pleading): But, God, what about the world?

God (smiling): Think about it.

Adapted from Shaped by God (Tyndale, 1985)

Prayer for the Week:  Lord, help me break loose from my usual schedule enough to savor serving someone else.