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Serving Jesus

By |2024-07-08T02:33:07-04:00July 8th, 2024|

In the early 1800s, Elizabeth Fry was appalled by the conditions in a London women’s prison. Women and their children were crowded together and made to sleep on the cold stone floors. Although they weren’t given bedding, a tap flowed with gin. For years, she visited the prison and ushered in change by providing clothes, opening a school, and teaching the Bible. But many saw her biggest influence as her loving presence and clear messages of hope.

In her actions she followed Jesus’ invitation to serve those in need. For instance, while on the Mount of Olives, Jesus shared several stories about the end of the age, including one about the welcome of “the righteous to eternal life” (Matthew 25:46). In it the King tells the righteous people that they gave Him something to drink, invited Him in, and visited Him in prison (vv. 35–36). When they couldn’t recall doing so, the King responds: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (v. 40).

What a wonder that when we serve others with the help of the Holy Spirit, we serve Jesus! We can follow Elizabeth Fry’s example, and we can also serve from home, such as through intercessory prayer or writing letters. Jesus welcomes us to love Him as we use our spiritual gifts and talents to assist others.

A New Command to Love

By |2024-03-28T02:33:05-04:00March 28th, 2024|

In a tradition starting as early as the thirteenth century, members of the royal family in the United Kingdom give gifts to people in need on Maundy Thursday, the day before Good Friday. The practice is rooted in the meaning of the word maundy, which comes from the Latin mandatum, “command.” The command being commemorated is the new one that Jesus gave to His friends on the night before He died: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34).

Jesus was a leader who took on the role of a servant as He washed His friends’ feet (v. 5). He then called them to do the same: “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (v. 15). And in an even greater act of sacrifice, He lay down His life, dying on the cross (19:30). Out of mercy and love He gave Himself that we might enjoy the fullness of life.

The tradition of the British royal family serving people in need continues as a symbol of following Jesus’ great example. We may not have been born into a place of privilege, but when we place our faith in Jesus, we become members of His family. And we too can show our love by living out His new command. As we depend on God’s Spirit to change us from within, we can reach out to others with care, affirmation, and grace.

Serving for God’s Sake

By |2023-11-27T01:33:04-05:00November 27th, 2023|

When England’s Queen Elizabeth passed away in September 2022, thousands of soldiers were deployed to march in the funeral procession. Their individual roles must have been almost unnoticeable in the large crowd, but many saw it as the greatest honor. One soldier said it was “an opportunity to do our last duty for Her Majesty.” For him, it was not what he did, but whom he was doing it for that made it an important job.

The Levites assigned to take care of the tabernacle furnishings had a similar aim. Unlike the priests, the Gershonites, Kohathites, and Merarites were assigned seemingly mundane tasks: cleaning the furniture, lampstands, curtains, posts, tent pegs, and ropes (Numbers 3:25–26, 31, 36–37). Yet their jobs were specifically assigned by God, constituted “doing the work of the tabernacle” (v. 8), and are recorded in the Bible for posterity.

What an encouraging thought! Today, what many of us do at work, at home, or in church may seem insignificant to a world that values titles and salaries. But God sees it differently. If we work and serve for His sake—seeking excellence and for His honor, even in the smallest task—then our work is important because we’re serving our great God.

Persistent Pizza

By |2023-11-06T01:33:31-05:00November 6th, 2023|

At age twelve, Ibrahim arrived in Italy from West Africa, not knowing a word of Italian, struggling with a stutter, and forced to face anti-immigrant putdowns. None of that stopped the hard-working young man who, in his twenties, opened a pizza shop in Trento, Italy. His little business won over doubters to be listed as one of the top fifty pizzerias in the world.

His hope was then to help feed hungry children on Italian streets. So he launched a “pizza charity” by expanding a Neapolitan tradition—where customers buy an extra coffee (caffè sospeso) for those in need—to pizza (pizza sospesa). He also urges immigrant children to look past prejudice and not give up.
Such persistence recalls Paul’s lessons to the Galatians on continually doing good to all. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9). Paul continued, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (v. 10).

Ibrahim, an immigrant who faced prejudice and language barriers, created an opportunity to do good. Food became “a bridge” leading to tolerance and understanding. Inspired by such persistence, we too can look for opportunities to do good. God, then, gets the glory as He works through our steady trying.

Use What You Have for Christ

By |2023-10-18T02:33:15-04:00October 18th, 2023|

Ever heard of The Sewing Hall of Fame? Established in 2001, it recognizes people that have made “a lasting impact on the home sewing industry with unique and innovative contributions through sewing education and product development.” It includes individuals like Martha Pullen, inducted into the hall in 2005, who is described as “a Proverbs 31 woman who . . . never failed to publicly acknowledge the source of her strength, inspiration, and blessings.”

The Sewing Hall of Fame is a twenty-first-century invention, but had it been around during the first century in Israel, a woman named Tabitha might have been a lock for induction. Tabitha was a believer in Jesus and a seamstress who spent time sewing for poor widows in her community (Acts 9:36, 39). After she became ill and died, disciples sent for Peter to see if God would work a miracle through him. When he arrived, weeping widows showed him robes and other clothing that Tabitha had made for them (v. 39). These clothes were evidence of her “always doing good” in her city. She used her skills to help “the poor” and others (v. 36). By God’s power, Tabitha was restored to life.

God calls and equips us to use our skills to meet needs that are present in our community and world. Let’s release our skills into the service of Jesus and see how He will use our acts of love to stitch hearts and lives together (Ephesians 4:16).

She Did What She Could

By |2021-05-19T09:06:05-04:00May 19th, 2021|

She loaded the plastic container of cupcakes onto the conveyor belt, sending it toward the cashier. Next came the birthday card and various bags of chips. Hair escaped from her ponytail, crowning her fatigued forehead. Her toddler clamored for attention. The clerk announced the total and the mom’s face fell. “Oh, I guess I’ll have to put something back. But these are for her party,” she sighed, glancing regretfully at her child.

Standing behind her in line, another customer felt this mother’s pain. Then Jesus’ words to Mary of Bethany echoed to her: “She did what she could” (Mark 14:8). After anointing Him with a bottle of expensive nard before His death and burial, Mary was ridiculed by the disciples. Jesus corrected His followers by celebrating what she had done. Jesus didn’t say, “She did all she could,” but rather, “She did what she could.” The lavish cost of the perfume wasn’t His point. It was Mary’s investment of her love in action that mattered. A relationship with Jesus results in a response.

In that moment, the second customer sensed God’s nudge. Before the mom could object, she leaned forward and inserted her credit card into the reader, paying for the purchase. It wasn’t a large expense, and the woman had the extra funds that month. But to that mom, it was everything. A gesture of pure love poured out in her moment of need.

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