Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Proof Is In The Pudding!


And if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness and your gloom will become like midday.” (Isaiah 58:10, NAS) 

“And if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted…” 

What have do you give yourself to? All of us give ourselves to things every single day—work, hobbies, family, fun, etc. How can we give ourselves to the hungry and satisfy the desires of the afflicted?  I think making a list of some of the ways we give ourselves to other things might help us with this:

Money
I thought I’d just go ahead and knock this most obvious one off at the top. Yes, when we value something—we invest money into it—absolutely!

But there are tons of other, equally or even more valuable ways to give ourselves to those in need. 

Prayer
When we value someone—we lift them up to God. We ask God to help, bless and guide those we love. Ask Him to show you how you can be a blessing to others—and I promise you He will!

Time
We all invest time into things and people we care about. One of the greatest ways you can give yourself to another person is by just showing up. Just hanging with them—doing whatever. In those times—what you do isn’t important—it’s all about just being with them.

Talents
What do you do well—talk, run, listen, sing, draw, decorate, play guitar, tell stories or jokes, garden, fix things, clean, encourage, organize, etc.?  Look for ways to do that for, or share that with the hurting people in your community!

Service
Sometimes stuff just needs to be done. Things need picked up and moved or cleaned. People need to be fed, or have an errand run for them. For some people—it’s a huge blessing when the person entering a building in front of them—pauses to hold the door so they and their walker can navigate through more easily. If you ask God to open your eyes to ways you can serve others each day—you will be amazed at how many opportunities are all around you!

Advocate
We advocate for the people we care about. We stick up for them and look for ways to help them get what they need. If you have an opportunity to speak up for the needy and raise awareness in your circle of friends at work or church do it! Maybe there’s a local shelter, soup kitchen or some other ministry to the hurting in your community that you and your friends or fellow church members can serve at? Be the voice that advocates for the needy and sparks others to help. 

Equip
A great way to help the hurting people is by equipping them with skills and resources that can make their lives better. Money can help, but many needy people need to be equipped in ways money can’t touch. They need to know that they matter and are valued. Many have emotional scars from their past and they need others to help them develop the confidence, social skills, work ethic, and character they never received as children. Any way we can step in with a smile, some words of encouragement or a listening ear can make a real difference!

“Then your light will rise in darkness And your gloom will become like midday.” 

This is a BIG part what Jesus had in mind when he called his followers “the light of the world.” (Mt. 5:14) Yes, being light includes living a pure and righteous life—but righteousness isn’t righteous—if it doesn’t include a healthy dose of compassion and mercy---just ask the Priest in Jesus’ parable about the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) who walked past the beat up guy on the side of the street—because He was too preoccupied with his religious activities to pause and BE RIGHTEOUS by demonstrating mercy. This is what Jesus meant when he said to the Pharisees, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” (Mt. 9:13) In this context, “sacrifices” were literally part of the Jewish faith. The Pharisees had “religion” down to a science. On another occasion Jesus said to them, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices--mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law--justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.” (Mt. 23:23) Translation—Being active in your local church is awesome and important (Mt. 16:18, Jn. 13:34-35, Acts, 2:42, Heb. 10:25)—but, as the old saying goes, “The proof is in the pudding!” The WHOLE POINT of church is to equip us to live Christ-honoring—just, merciful and faithful lives! And when we live these kinds of lives---we will shine like bright lights in a dark world that is desperate for justice, mercy and authentic people who are FULL of FAITH! 

Shine for Jesus today my friend!