We are the Hands and Feet of Jesus

“When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality”—Romans 12:13 (NLT).

https://thebreakthrough.org

Newspaper photos, social media posts and live TV coverage depicted the devastation. Those viewing the destruction left in the wake of Hurricane Harvey could only imagine what the Texas victims were experiencing. For those of us who have experienced the aftermath of a hurricane, the reality is familiar.

However, anyone who has either viewed or experienced a disaster like this is familiar with the sacrifices of those who respond to the call for help. As responders poured into the southeastern Texas areas hardest hit, I marveled once again, not only at the sight of trained rescue workers, but the volunteers who leave their jobs, homes and family to provide assistance to those affected by the flooding.

Stories continue to reveal those moments when all hope seemed lost. Then, someone who refused to give up, showed up and answered the call for help.

I listened to TV coverage as victims and rescuers were interviewed. One man, a volunteer rescuer, paraphrased 1 John 3:17, which states, “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?”

We Are One in Christ Jesus

“There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus”—Galatians 3:28(NLT).

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The video of the speeding car slamming into a crowd of protesters left a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Three died, including two police officers. More than 30 were injured in a Virginia riot on August 12.

Immediately after the event, people took to social media, pointing fingers. Too many, including Christians, began to assign blame for what happened. First, let me say as a former school teacher that pointing your finger doesn’t solve problems. A relevant adage reminds the pointer that three more fingers are pointing back at you. Jesus reminds us of the same.

Matthew 7:5 tells us, “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

We’re all to blame if we haven’t followed the teachings of Jesus. If we treat others with contempt, we’re mistreating a person created in God’s image. All forms of racism, prejudice, and discrimination dishonor the work of Christ on the cross.

What Can Unity Accomplish?

“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”—Psalm 133:1(NIV).

unityoffortmyers.org

These people are not drowning today!” This thought entered Jessica Simmons’ mind when she watched as six members of a single family struggled after a powerful riptide had swept them away at a Panama City Beach.

Others had tried to reach the family in trouble, but each previous rescue attempt left more people stranded. A lifeguard was not on duty. A rescue boat had not yet arrived. People began to use boogie boards, surf boards and their arms and legs to attempt a rescue.

When someone shouted, “Form a human chain,” five people volunteered, followed by 10 more. Then dozens more joined as the rescue mission grew increasingly desperate. Simmons and her husband, Derek, swam past the 80 or so human link and headed for the stranded swimmers. The couple managed to reach the children first, passing them via the human chain toward the beach.

Nearly an hour later, through the efforts of the growing human chain, linked together with wrists, legs and arms, the last of the 10 stranded swimmers were rescued. One of the adults rescued said, “It actually showed me there are good people in this world.”

Whether all of the rescuers that day were believers or not, their selfless act should be an example to everyone. Through their unified actions, 10 people are still alive.

Finding the Best during the Worst of Times

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand”—Isaiah 41:10 (NIV).

 

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“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way…”

So begins “A Tale of Two Cities,” written by Charles Dickens, a prolific British author. Published in 1859, this historical novel takes place during the French Revolution. If you reread Dickens’ opening paragraph, you might think he was describing today’s world.

In a sermon by Pastor John Piper, he said, “The same is true today: It is the best of times and the worst of times. Perhaps this is true at every point in the history of a God-ruled, sin-pervaded world. It was true in 1859, and it is true today.”

He will not leave you or forsake you.

Since the beginning of creation and the fall of Adam and Eve, our world has been defined by the best of times and the worst of times. As the author of Ecclesiastes wrote in the first chapter, verse nine, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”

Recently, a 14-year-old Owasso, Okla., student, J.J. Willis, made the news with a poem he wrote and recorded inside his mother’s minivan where it was quiet. The poem was inspired by the current political atmosphere stirring up hateful arguments—even among Christians—across social media.

In his video, Willis said “We’re all proud and arrogant, and we believe we’re always right. Things should be different.”

Can We Give Better Gifts?

The perfect gift is that He gave His only Son.

“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had” – Acts 4:32 (NIV).

sharing-the-gospel-with-your-children

www.focusonthefamily.com

Three words at the top of a brightly colored advertising insert in my daily newspaper captured my attention. “Give better gifts.”

The insert was only one of 25 stuffed inside to lure customers into shopping Black Friday sales. Retrieving the heavier-than-usual newspaper off my driveway on Thanksgiving Day reminded me that Christmas isn’t far off and I’d better get busy shopping. However, I abhor crowds so I tossed the advertisements in the trash.

I’m not opposed to saving money when shopping. However, I have come to detest the commercialism now associated with a sacred Christian holiday. Recent TV commercials and a story in the business section of the newspaper several days before Thanksgiving made me want to cheer. Many businesses are refusing to open on Thanksgiving so that their employees can spend the day of gratitude with their families.

Gifts of our time and our presence are better than any store-bought gift.

One company has gone one step further by announcing for the second year in a row that they will be closed on Black Friday. In fact, according to the article, they are not offering any Black Friday deals online or otherwise. REI, a national outdoor retail co-op, is dedicated to inspiring, educating and outfitting its members and the community for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship. Passionate about the outdoors, the company is committed to promoting environmental stewardship and increasing access to outdoor recreation through volunteerism, gear donations and financial contributions.

And here’s the Good News!

“Now let me remind you, brothers, of what the Gospel really is, for it has not changed—it is the same Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then and still do now, for your faith is squarely built upon this wonderful message; and it is this Good News that saves you if you still firmly believe it, unless of course you never really believed it in the first place”—1 Corinthians 15:1-2(TLB).

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http://thepoisedlife.com

Tired of the negative news? Me too. You can’t watch television, read a newspaper or peruse social media without being bombarded with bad news. Depressing news. Sad news. News that leaves us wondering why and how our world has become so dark.

Then, good news happens. A story on television, a newspaper article or a post on social media reminds us that there is still light in the world, a light that reflects the goodness still alive and well bringing hope to our weary souls and our heavy hearts.

Trust God where you cannot see Him.

At the heart of the gospel message is hope, hope of better days, a better future and a better life awaiting us once we leave this fallen world. Our hope is in Jesus Christ, not man. That is, if you ever believed it in the first place.

Even if we have believed and placed our hope in Him, our steps falter when we become weary and want to quit because we’re overwhelmed with responsibilities. We take on too much. We’re too busy. We don’t have time to stop and listen for that still, small voice reassuring us, guiding us, speaking to our spirits and inviting us to take refuge in His arms.

Have you been persecuted for your faith?

“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted...”— 2 Timothy 3:12(ESV).

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www.truthrevolt.org

What does it mean to you to be persecuted for your faith? Most of us automatically think of those in other countries who are dying because they refuse to renounce their belief in Jesus Christ. Places like Kenya, Pakistan, Nigeria, Libya, Uganda and Syria come to mind.

While there are other countries, most of us in America pay no heed to the stories of those who are killed for their faith. We sit in our comfortable pews on Sunday morning, participate in church activities and have no clue what it means to die for our beliefs. While there have been incidences in our country where Christians have been murdered in a church setting, they are not commonplace.

We take for granted our freedom to worship each Sunday in our chosen denomination. We read our Bibles without fear of having to conceal it. We can talk openly about our faith in the media and on the street corners, if we so choose. We aren’t afraid to share what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross. The word persecution usually doesn’t enter into our vocabulary.

The ‘problem of pain,’ is atheism’s most potent weapon

against the Christian faith.

As a Christian columnist, I promote my writing worldwide via my blog and social media. While I’ve received emails from believers around the globe, I’ve also encountered hatred from non-believers as well.

Recently, I received a message in response to a tweet I’d posted on Twitter. For those who are unfamiliar with this online social networking service, users are only allowed 140-character messages to convey their thoughts. It requires creativity and abbreviations to communicate.