Getting Your Hands Dirty

Getting Your Hands Dirty
The apostle Paul was a hard worker. He worked to support himself and his ministry. While some churches supported him financially at times, he often sacrificed his time, energy, and health to labor full-time for the advance of the Gospel and full-time to support his own needs. I guess he didn't sleep! In Acts 20:35 he is recorded as saying to the Ephesian elders, "I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

You know, we are called on throughout the New Testament to live sacrificial lives, to serve others, to work hard, and to do everything we do to the best of our abilities for the glory of God.

To live this biblical lifestyle, we will often have to "get our hands dirty." Of course, I mean this figuratively, but I do not discount the fact that sometimes we have to do it literally! Working for the Lord and serving others is a wonderful blessing, but we will often have dirty hands. Life is messy. Families are messy. Sin is messy.

The Lord does not need prima donnas. He wants (pick your illustration) soldiers, field medics, mechanics, coal miners . . . You get the idea. God needs laborers! We cannot be those who shy away from high pressure situations and messy tasks. We are "ministers of reconciliation" (2 Cor 5:18) or, in other words, we are special ops on a rescue mission.

Take the Gospel to a lost and dying world! Shine the light of Christ into a dark and hopeless generation. Don't waste your life ensuring that your fingernails are clean! Get out there and serve the Lord by confronting the powers of darkness, the sin that so easily entangles, and point people to the only hope of the world, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! And let this be one of our life's mottos: "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

For God So Loved the World

For God So Loved the World
How often do you think beyond yourself? I mean, how often do you think beyond your own little part of the world? I try to do this often, but I certainly do not do it often enough. When we become more godly, we think more like God, and we act more like God. In the first place, God had an immense love for the world. That loving perspective caused Him to act in the world's behalf- He sent His Son to take our sins upon Himself in death and to be raised again for our justification. He first loved, and then He acted in behalf of others.

If we follow God in this pattern, then our thinking must change- we must become more loving. When our attitude changes and we become more loving, then we will begin to act more in the interests of others than before. Yes, we must look out for our own interests. We have to work to live and provide for our families. Godliness is looking out for our own interests AND the interests of others.

So, how often do you think beyond yourself? How often do you think about your fellow church members; your neighbors; the nation; the world? Keep in step with the Spirit as He transforms you by the renewing of your mind! Walk in the Spirit as He directs you to various ministries.

Don't Be Discouraged

Don't Be Discouraged
I was really encouraged this week when I read through a brief section of a church history book of mine. I ran into a hymn written by a Christian brother in Brazil some years ago. I think you will be encouraged by it as well. It reminds me of the several times that Jesus encouraged His disciples to not lose heart. For example, in John 14:1 He said, "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me." Read the lyrics below slowly and check out the story behind it. Enjoy!

Don't be discouraged ever again.
Jesus Christ has already given you
    Peace, love, and joy,
    not a fantasy world.
Don't look back,
Jesus Christ has taken you from sin.
Just look ahead, nothing more.
Don't be discouraged from singing.
Through strength and grace all will pass.
And the victory He will give us.
And together we will win the crown.

"[The hymn's] author is Lindomar Moreira da Silva, at the time of writing an eighteen-year-old member of an evangelical Protestant church in Buriticupu, deep in the interior of northeast Brazil. This is a region with almost no economic opportunity and almost none of the comforts taken for granted in North America, Europe, and other developed parts of the world. When he wrote this song in the mid-1990s, the author was living with his mother and seven other children in a four-room house. Lindomar subsequently went to seminary, married another seminary graduate, and in 2011 was pastoring a church in the interior town of Dirceu Arcoverde, Piaui" (Mark Noll).

Hospitable Christians

Hospitable Christians
The New Testament usually assumes that Sunday church gatherings will only be made up of born-again believers. However, there is one passage, 1 Corinthians 14, which instructs believers to be aware of how their worship services, especially the orderliness of them, may impact unbelievers who visit with them. That is an intriguing thought, isn’t it? Our Sunday services ought to focus on believers, the born-again members of our church, but we should also keep in mind the guests that we have in attendance.
Of course, the Bible is full of instructions about being hospitable. Biblical hospitality (as opposed to merely “Southern hospitality,” which is good too) is a highly esteemed godly value. Christians are to be those who are aware of others—there presence, needs, and our Gospel ministry to them. Hebrews 13:2 famously exhorts, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” The last part of the verse concerning angels almost certainly alludes to Abraham hosting God’s messengers in Genesis 18 and his nephew Lot doing the same in Genesis 19. Don’t get bogged down by that idea, though. It is only supposed to illustrate and emphasize the command to “show hospitality to strangers.”
Think of these things from church perspective. Don’t you think that we ought to go out of our way to welcome guests in our church services? If one of our members brings family, friends, neighbors, or coworkers, shouldn’t we be hospitable to our guests? What about those who take it upon themselves to visit with us on Sunday mornings? We should certainly greet them, invite them to sit with us, and show them where the bathrooms are or children’s areas and the like. Church hospitality is so important! Christians should be the most welcoming and loving people on the planet.
On this point of ministry, our church should really be commended. There is never a time that someone visits with us and is not greeted and warmly welcomed. We are really good about it. Let me encourage you to continue to be so hospitable and to not only be so initially but throughout their visit. If you see folks eating by themselves at a potluck, go and join them, especially if they are new to the church. Invite someone to your pew. Offer to take them to lunch one Sunday. Follow up with them on the phone or by email. There are so many simple ways to invest in the life of others by being hospitable. Obviously, there are some cautions to keep in mind: We do not want to overwhelm our guests, we do not want to put them on the spot in public, we do not want to be nosy, and we do not want to be disingenuous. You get the picture. There are restraints to maintain, but let us be the most welcoming, genuine, loving, and warm church in town! The Lord will defintitely be pleased with that kind of ministry!