Do You Serve by Sacrifice or Love?

Do You Serve by Sacrifice or by Love?

 Matthew 22:37…Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all  thy mind.

When you truly love a person, you will want to serve that person with joy and energy because of  your love for him.  You will want to do things for that person that will make that person feel loved.

Luke 10:38-42 …Martha received Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard His word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to Him, and said, Lord, dost Thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered her and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

God’s word tells us  in Romans 12:7 that if  a person has the gift of ministry, let him wait on his ministering.  Many times a person who has a servant’s heart is often in a hurry to serve, but he must learn to wait for the promptings of the Lord  to lead him serve.

Here is an example of two women who used their ministries of serving. Mary and Martha both loved to serve. Mary knew when she should stop serving and sit and the feet of Jesus. Martha was cumbered about with serving. She was overwhelmed and overloaded with her work. She was stressed out because she was serving without the Spirit’s leading. Martha wanted to do the right thing and serve the Lord by preparing a meal, but she was more focused on her sacrificial service than loving the Lord with all her heart, soul, and mind. There are many Christians today who are more focused on the activity of serving than they are on loving the Lord.

The older I get the more I realize that I must serve others out of a deep love for the Lord instead of obligation or sacrifice.

As I serve others, I should not serve them because of my selfish ambition or vain conceit, but I must serve them with humility and with a Christ-like attitude that considers another person’s welfare more important than my own.

Philippians 2:3-5 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.

When we serve others, we must serve them with a sincere love. This is a love that is without hypocrisy or deception. I should hate those things that are evil and cling to those things that are good. I must be devoted to serving others by honoring them above myself.

Romans 12:9-10 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil, cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love, in honour preferring one another.

God’s word tells me that when I attend to the needs of another,  I am doing this as a service for Christ.

Matthew 25:35-40 For I was hungered, and ye gave me meat. I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink. I was a stranger and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick and ye visited me, I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then the righteous answer Him saying, Lord, when saw we an hungered, and fed Thee? or thirty, and gave Thee drink? When saw we Thee a stranger, and took Thee in? or naked, and clothed Thee? Or when saw we Thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily, I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

My desire to please others through my service must not be self-centered.  As I see others who are discouraged, I should do all I can to build them up and encourage them.

Romans 15:1-2 We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification.

I shouldn’t complain when I use whatever gift God has given me to serve others. I should use my gift God with His grace. If I use my gift to speak, I should speak the very words of God. If I use my gift to serve others, I should serve  them with all the strength that the Lord gives me.  As I begin to use my gifts with the Spirit’s leading,  I bring glory, power, and praise to God through Jesus Christ.

I Peter 4: 9-11 Use hospitality one to another without grudging. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God, if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

In Mark chapter 14, Mary of Bethany served the Lord not only with sacrifice, but also with all of her heart, soul, and mind. When she broke the alabaster box and poured the ointment on His head, she was condemned by all those around her. Jesus told the others, “Let her alone; why trouble her? she hath wrought a good work on me.” In verse 9, Jesus says, “Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.”

 Lord, let me do the little things

Which may fall to my lot:

Those little inconspicuous ones

By others oft forgot

If, like the Master, I can give

Myself for those I love,

Rich joy and peace shall come to me,

Sweet rest in heaven above.

I know not when the day shall close;

But when life’s curfew rings.

I want my Lord to find me then

Still doing little things.—Unknown.

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Personal Organization

Personal Organization

The most important part of personal organization is to keep important information at your fingertips. After crashing two computers, I have learned to backup all my data in three places. I save everything on a thumb drive and a portable hard drive, plus I continue to save hard copies of new addresses and business cards.

A few years ago, I purchased four black 6″x10″metal boxes at Staples. I keep these boxes on a shelf by my desk.

The first box is for addresses and business cards. When I receive a card or letter with a new address, I cut off the return address and tape it to an index card and file it alphabetically. I file family information such as social security cards, health information, immunization dates, doctors, emergency information, credit card and bank information. I have a section labeled “beauty” for pictures of hairstyles I like and business cards for various services.

The second box is for label makers and its cartridges.

The third box is for checks, deposit slips, and rubber stamps that I use for business transactions.

The fourth box is for receipts that I need.

Here are a few hints for organizing your personal life.

If you have the habit of losing your keys, purchase a large hook for your keys and clip them to the outside of your handbag. You should not have to search for keys every time you need them.

If you are attending a special event or meeting the next morning, have your clothing ready the night before. Make sure there are no spots, no buttons missing, or other problems. When you have limited time, there is nothing more stressful than searching for something to wear and not being able to find it.

Have a designated place for everything. Good organization means that you can locate everything quickly—you should not have to race up and down the stairs searching for something when your husband asks for it.

Organize seasonal items by months or topics. I have file boxes in the basement for seasonal items. I have labeled the months and contents of each box.

Here is an example of labeling for boxes, but use your own needs for labeling.
1. January-February (winter decorations)
2. March-June (spring decorations)
3. July-August (Patriotic decorations)
4. September-October (autumn decorations)
5. November (Thanksgiving decorations)
6. December (Christmas decorations)
7. Birthday decorations and small gifts for unexpected birthdays, anniversaries, or showers. (It is good to purchase small gifts when they are on sale. Next time you have an event, you will not have to scurry around to locate something.
8. Since I host a few Tea Parties through the year, I label one of my boxes Tea Items.

Organizing this way not only makes locating items easier and less stressful to find, but you are able to decorate for any occasion at a moment’s notice.

If you have a large family, color code your children’s items. (Blue toothbrushes, blue towels, blue file folders, etc.)

De-junk! Give away clothes that are not worn, broken toys, etc. It is much easier to clean without a lot of clutter.

If you have limited space to store videos and books, instead of purchasing them; use the library or rent them!

Keep a file drawer or box in the kitchen with each person’s name on a file folder. Put coloring papers, notes from school, future homework assignments, etc.

Keep a file folder marked “To Read”  in a convenient place. File periodicals and articles that you would like to read, but you don’t have time at the moment. Grap that folder next time you are going on a trip or going to the doctor/dentist  office.

Do two things at one time. Take your organizer with you to your appointments and get caught up on correspondence.

Open mail near a wastebasket in order to throw out junk mail.

Don’t confuse neatness with organization. You might have a neat desk, but forgot to send your mother a birthday card, pay an important bill, or locate last year’s tax papers.

Decorate a shoe box or buy a pretty box and label it “Joy” boxThis is a good place to store small mementos that you collect such as birthday cards, invitations, ticket stubs to theme parks, zoos, plays, or ball games. You can use these items later to scrapbook or just to let children browse through.

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A Missionary Who Got Angry at God

A Missionary Who Got Angry at God
Back in 1921, a missionary couple named David and Svea Flood went with their two-year-old son from Sweden to the heart of Africa-to what was then called the Belgian Congo. They met up with another young Scandinavian couple, the Ericksons, and the four of them sought God for direction. In those days of much tenderness and devotion and sacrifice, they felt led of the Lord to go out from the main mission station and take the gospel to a remote area.

This was a huge step of faith. At the village of N’dolera they were rebuffed by the chief, who would not let them enter his town for fear of alienating the local gods. The two couples opted to go half a mile up the slope and build their own mud huts.

They prayed for a spiritual breakthrough, but there was none. The only contact with the villagers was a young boy, who was allowed to sell them chickens and eggs twice a week. Svea Flood-a tiny woman of only four feet, eight inches tall-decided that if this was the only African she could talk to, she would try to lead the boy to Jesus. And in fact, she succeeded. But there were no other encouragements. Meanwhile, malaria continued to strike one member of the little band after another. In time the Ericksons decided they had had enough suffering and left to return to the central mission station. David and Svea Flood remained near N’dolera to go on alone.

Then, of all things, Svea found herself pregnant in the middle of the primitive wilderness. When the time came for her to give birth, the village chief softened enough to allow a midwife to help her. A little girl was born, whom they named Aina. The delivery, however, was exhausting, and Svea Flood was already weak from bouts of malaria. The birth process was a heavy blow to her stamina. She lasted only another seventeen days.

Inside David Flood, something snapped in that moment. He dug a crude grave, buried his twenty-seven-year-old wife, and then took his children back down the mountain to the mission station. Giving his newborn daughter to the Ericksons, he snarled, “I’m going back to Sweden. I’ve lost my wife, and I obviously can’t take care of this baby. God has ruined my life.” With that, he headed for the port, rejecting not only his calling, but God himself.

Within eight months both the Ericksons were stricken with a mysterious malady and died within days of each other. The baby was then turned over to some American missionaries, who adjusted her Swedish name to “Aggie” and eventually brought her back to the United States at age three. This family loved the little girl and was afraid that if they tried to return to Africa, some legal obstacle might separate her from them. So they decided to stay in their home country and switch from missionary work to pastoral ministry.  And that is how Aggie grew up in South Dakota. As a young woman, she attended North Central Bible College in Minneapolis. There she met and married a young man named Dewey Hurst.

Years passed. The Hursts enjoyed a fruitful ministry. Aggie gave birth first to a daughter, then a son. In time her husband became president of a Christian college in the Seattle area, and Aggie was intrigued to find so much Scandinavian heritage there.

One day a Swedish religious magazine appeared in her mailbox. She had no idea who had sent it, and of course she couldn’t read the words. But as she turned the pages, all of a sudden a photo stopped her cold. There in a primitive setting was a grave with a white cross-and on the cross were the words SVEA FLOOD.

Aggie jumped in her car and went straight to a college faculty member who, she knew, could translate the article. “What does this say?” she demanded. The instructor summarized the story: It was about missionaries who had come to N’dolera long ago…the birth of a white baby… the death of the young mother…the one little African boy who had been led to Christ…and how, after the whites had all left, the boy had grown up and finally persuaded the chief to let him build a school in the village. The article said that gradually he won all his students to Christ…the children led their parents to Christ…even the chief had become a Christian. Today there were six hundred Christian believers in that one village… All because of the sacrifice of David and Svea Flood.

For the Hursts’ twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, the college presented them with the gift of a vacation to Sweden. There Aggie sought to find her real father. An old man now, David Flood had remarried, fathered four more children, and generally dissipated his life with alcohol. He had recently suffered a stroke.  Still bitter, he had one rule in his family: “Never mention the name of God-because God took everything from me.”

After an emotional reunion with her half brothers and half sister, Aggie brought up the subject of seeing her father. The others hesitated. “You can talk to him,” they replied, “even though he’s very ill now. But you need to know that whenever he hears the name of God, he flies into a rage.”

Aggie was not to be deterred. She walked into the squalid apartment, with liquor bottles everywhere, and approached the seventy-three-year-old man lying in a rumpled bed.

“Papa?” she said tentatively. He turned and began to cry. “Aina,” he said, “I never meant to give you away.”

“It’s all right Papa,” she replied, taking him gently in her arms. “God took care of me.”

The man instantly stiffened. The tears stopped.

“God forgot all of us. Our lives have been like this because of Him.” He turned his face back to the wall.

Aggie stroked his face and then continued, undaunted. “Papa, I’ve got a little story to tell you, and it’s a true one. You didn’t go to Africa in vain. Mama didn’t die in vain. The little boy you won to the Lord grew up to win that whole village to Jesus Christ. The one seed you planted just kept growing and growing. Today there are six hundred African people serving the Lord because you were faithful to the call of God in your life… “Papa, Jesus loves you. He has never hated you.”

The old man turned back to look into his daughter’s eyes. His body relaxed.  He began to talk. And by the end of the afternoon, he had come back to the God he had resented for so many decades.

Over the next few days, father and daughter enjoyed warm moments together.
Aggie and her husband soon had to return to America-and within a few weeks, David Flood had gone into eternity.

A few years later, the Hursts were attending a high-level evangelism conference in London, England, where a report was given from the nation of Zaire (the former Belgian Congo). The superintendent of the national church, representing some 110,000 baptized believers, spoke eloquently of the gospel’s spread in his nation. Aggie could not help going to ask him afterward if he had ever heard of David and Svea Flood.

“Yes, madam,” the man replied in French, his words then being translated into English. “It was Svea Flood who led me to Jesus Christ. I was the boy who brought food to your parents before you were born. In fact, to this day your mother’s grave and her memory are honored by all of us.” He embraced her in a long, sobbing hug. Then he continued, “You must come to Africa to see, because your mother is the most famous person in our history.”

In time that is exactly what Aggie Hurst and her husband did. They were welcomed by cheering throngs of villagers. She even met the man who had been hired by her father many years before to carry her back down the mountain in a hammock-cradle.

The most dramatic moment, of course, was when the pastor escorted Aggie to see her mother’s white cross for herself. She knelt in the soil to pray and give thanks. Later that day, in the church, the pastor read from John 12:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He then followed with Psalm 126:5: They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.

(An excerpt from Aggie Hurst, Aggie: The Inspiring Story of A Girl Without A Country [Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1986].)

Permissions: Feel free to reproduce and distribute any articles written by Randy Alcorn, in part or in whole, in any format, provided that you do not alter the wording in any way or charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. It is our desire to spread this information, not protect or restrict it.

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A Balm in Gilead

      A Balm in Gilead

Is there no balm in Gilead?

Is there no physician there?

O yes, my friend there is a healing balm

For those who have worry, pain, and care.

You ask, “Is there no balm in Gilead?”

Oh yes, There is a healing balm.

I feel so hurt and alone, you say;

Can I receive comfort in this gloom, today?

Don’t be afraid, He’ll see you through

There are so many things He can do.

Come to this physician above

And He will fill you with His love.

He will lift your burdens; for He is strong

He will give you new strength and His strength

will become your song.

Is there no balm in Gilead?

Oh yes, there is a healing balm.

Fierce as the storms of life may be;

He’ll always be there to comfort thee.

Written by Judy Lewis

July 1991

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Your Thought Life

Your Daily Thoughts
Build your days on a foundation of pleasant thoughts. Think on things that are true, honest, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praise worthy. Phil 4:8

Don’t let your mind brood over your mistakes and failures.  Mistakes are life’s way of teaching you. Remind yourself daily that you are a creation of God and thank Him for the way He made you.

Take control of fearful thoughts—those “What If Thoughts”.  What if I get cancer? What if my husband dies? What if my husband has an affair? What if my children rebel? What if I don’t have enough money when I get old? What if, what if, what if? The list could go on forever. We must moment by moment take those thoughts captive and bring them into obedience to Christ-centered thoughts. II Corin 10:5

God-centered thoughts are thoughts that focus on God’s principles and His guidance. These are thoughts that bring peace and joy.

Wrong thoughts are thoughts that focus on “How I feel”. These are self-centered thoughts. These are thoughts that  cause our emotions to feel  pride, bitterness, doubt, low-self esteem, anger, etc.

Right thoughts are thoughts that focus on serving others. I Peter 4:9-10 Use hospitality one to another without grudging. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister (serve, assist, help) the same one to another…

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Simplicity Plus Love Equals Hospitality

One of my fondest memories goes back many years ago when my husband and I were students in Bible College. My husband preached on the week-ends. We would drive back and forth to small communities to minister in various churches. There was one church in Arkansas that we went to regularly. We always stayed in the home of a widow lady named Mrs. Medlin. Although she existed on a small pension and lived in a humble home, she loved God’s servants and wanted to be a blessing to them. When we visited her, she treated us like royalty. Some Sundays our meal would only be oxtail soup, but she made that simple meal seem like a feast. She willingly shared what she had. She never tried to impress us, she just wanted to love our family and share what she had with us.

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My Quiet Time With the Lord

Meeting God in the Secret Place
Last month I picked up a book at the thrift shop and paid $.25 for it. This book has been like finding a gold mine. It is worth $1,000 to me. This author inspired me through his writing to pursue a more personal and intimate relationship with the Lord during my Quiet Time.

My Quiet Time is no longer an obligation, but it is a time that I look forward to. This author stated in his book, “The Lord is waiting for you—all you have to do is shut the door”. Matthew 6:6 shut the door…pray to the Father in secret.

The author also stated that he reads in four different places everyday. I started this method, and I love it. First,  I read  one chaper from Genesis-Malachi (except Psalms-Song of Solomon) Second, I read 1 chapter from Psalms-Song of Solomon. Third, I read 1 chapter from Matthew-John. Fourth, I read 1 chapter from Acts-Revelation. After reading each chapter, I place a small mark by the chapter that I have just read.

I am discovering that during my Quiet Time, I need to listen for God’s voice more than continually talk. The author of this book says, “The power of prayer is found, not in convincing God of my agenda, but in waiting upon Him to hear His agenda”.

You may ask me, “How do you hear God’s voice?” I hear it by that still small voice in my spirit and by His Word. When I read a Scripture, the Lord personalizes that Scripture for me.

Psalm 87:7…I answered thee in the secret place… Psalm 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God.

It is amazing how the Holy Spirit will bring to my mind those people who are in special need of my prayers for the day. I have a special section in my email organizer for daily prayer requests. I review those requests sometime during the day just to refresh my memory of special prayer needs.

There have been times in my life that I would sit down and watch television, thinking that this activity would renew me or fill some void. What I am discovering is that  watching television leaves me empty, but getting into God’s Word and listening for His voice energizes me. 

Instead of my Quiet Time being a legalistic time, it is becoming a sweet time of fellowship with the Lord. As I pray these verses back to the Lord, they are coming alive to me!

Psalm 119:97 O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.
Psalm 119:101 I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep Thy word.
Psalm 119:102 I have not departed from Thy judgments: for Thou hast taught me.
Psalm 119:103 How sweet are Thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Psalm 119:104 Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.

Oswald Chambers says, “Everything in our Christian life and service flows from our relationship with God. If we are not in vital fellowship with Him, everything else will be out of focus”.

I have also discovered that during my Quiet Time, the Lord helps me make wiser decisions.

Psalms 32:8 I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with Mine eye.

Here are a few ways that I am discovering which are helping me make my Quiet Time more intimate and personal. I pray that these suggestions will be a blessing to you.

1.  I listen to devotional music during this time. 

2.  I start by pouring out my love to the Lord. 

Eph 3:17  That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love.
Psalms 87:7…all my springs (my motives) are in Thee.

3.  I pray different Scriptures.

Here are a few  examples of verses to pray to the Lord, but every place you look in God’s Word; you will find Scriptures to do this.
Ps. 100:5 Lord, You are good and Your mercy is everlasting!
Ps 19:14 Lord, You are my strength and my redeemer.
Ps 119:15 I will meditate on Your precepts and respect all Your ways.

4.  I journalize my prayers and write down the Scriptures the Lord makes real to me.

5.  I beg the Lord to manifest Himself to me through His Word. 

6.  I meditate more on His Word.

Instead of just trying to finish reading the Bible through in a legalistic way, I have begun to slow down my reading and to meditate and to study various verses and phrases.Ps 77:6… “I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit makes diligent search.

 My Quiet Time

I daily seek a quiet place
That’s far from trouble and strife
Where I can piece together all
The puzzles of my life
It’s there, away from TV and books
And far from the telephone,
That I can fellowship with God; Just He and I alone
And there God pours His balm of love; Into the life I live,
And there I find a peace and joy
That only He can give.
I will not fear the circumstances; I face from day to day
For daily, in my quiet place, I’m learning how to pray.
                                     Glenda Fulton Davis

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Suffering and Its Purpose

Why Does God Allow Suffering?

God tells us not to think it strange when we experience trials. He will allow these trials in our lives to conform us to His image.

I Peter 4:12-13 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you; 13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings, that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

Here are a few reasons God allows us to suffer.

To prepare us so that we may be able to comfort others

I remember one time I was going through a deep trial. Crying out to the Lord with thoughts of hopelessness, I prayed, “Lord, does anyone understand what I am going through?”

Years later when visiting with a friend who was going through a similar trial, I began to understand this principle. “God, You allowed that trial in my life a few years ago so that I could help her today.” Leaving that visit, I offered the Lord a few silent words of gratitude. “Thank You, Father. I now see the reason that You had for me. It was for my good and for Your glory.”

II Corinthians 1:4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted.

To prepare us for future service

I love the story of Joseph. One time my husband did a series of lessons on the life of Joseph. I will never forget those lessons. My husband repeated over and over. God was with Joseph in the pit, in Potipher’s house, in prison, and then in the Palace, but Joseph never got angry or bitter. Why would God allow him to be put in prison? Think about it. He was put in Potipher’s house to learn the ways of the upper class of Egypt; He was put in the prison to learn the ways of the common men of Egypt. In the end, he was over all men in Egypt.

Genesis 50:20  But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

To give us a bigger view of God

Through the process of our Christian lives, we attend services and listen to many lessons and sermons. We read books. We go to special conferences and listen to various speakers. Many times we are not changed until we go through times of suffering, and we really begin to see the Lord and His purpose for our lives.

Job 42:5 I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.

To build our faith

My faith continues to grow as I look back at the ways God has answered my prayers and how He has worked  in the life of our family.

I will never forget the time when we started the church in Rhode Island. We were from Oklahoma, and we didn’t have to buy oil to heat our home. That first winter in New England was very difficult. We had to pay rent for a church building, pay rent on an apartment, buy oil for the church building, and buy oil for our apartment. We met one Sunday night in the church building, and it was so cold that you could see your breath. After services, my husband and I got on our knees and prayed, “Lord, we don’t want to leave, but people won’t come to a cold building. We need $1,000 to buy oil, or we won’t be able to stay. The next morning my husband came home singing and carrying a white envelope in his hand.  In the envelope there was a white piece of folded paper with ten one hundred dollar bills in it.  There was no return name or address on the envelope. Time after time, God has shown Himself mighty.  God continues to build our faith with answered prayers.

Ex. 14: 30 Thus the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore. 31 And Israel saw that great work which the LORD did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD, and his servant Moses.

To purify our walk

There have been many times that I felt have been so burdened down with daily duties that I served the Lord out of routine and not a true love for Him. It is usually during those times that God has to send something into my life to help purify my walk with Him. He helps me to refocus on Him and His purpose for my life.

Psalm 119:67 Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.

To remove any pride or boasting

I think there is a tendency in all of us at times to think too highly of ourselves. Human nature sometimes causes us to assume the worst in others and the best in ourselves. God has to send things into our lives to help remove pride or boasting so that we may be more useful to Him.

II Corin. 12:7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

To prove our real love for the Lord to Satan

I don’t really understand it, but Satan has access to heaven and the very throne of God. (Job 1:7) Satan reminds God about all of our failures. He says, “Look at Your saints; see what hypocrites they are. Judge them!” But Praise the Lord, Jesus stands at the Father’s right hand to intercede for us.”

Ps. 17:3 Thou hast proved mine heart; thou hast visited me in the night; thou hast tried me, and shalt find nothing; I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.

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Helping Those Who Grieve

Helping Friends Who Are Grieving

Don’t be afraid to visit. You don’t have to stay long or worry about making conversation.

Anticipate the needs of the person who has experienced the loss. You could answer the phone, answer the door, mow the lawn, volunteer to house incoming relatives, do laundry or provide food.

Don’t tell them, “I know how you feel”.  A woman may have lost her husband, but your husband is still alive—you don’t know how she feels.

Don’t try to make comments to minimize the tragedy; they are only ineffective.

Write a letter of condolence. Every word should be words of caring and love. You could describe the happy memories you shared with the one who has died.

Help her to recognize that recovery takes time and goes through various stages. (There could be a stage of bitterness)

Be there to listen. “When grief is the freshest, words should be the fewest”.

Give hope.

It is very important to help the grieving understand the difference between making choices based on feelings and choices based on facts. To illustrate this fact.  Suppose you have a widow in your church who receives money from her husband’s insurance policy after his death.  This is more money than she has ever had in her hands at one time. She must understand that she will need this money to pay her living expenses for many years.  She will have a tendency to go on unnecessary spending sprees or give away large amounts of money.

Help her to see that God has a goal for her life.

Mark on your calendar the date of the death.  On the 1 month, 2 month, and 1 year anniversary,  send a card, text her, or call her just to let her know that you are praying for her and thinking about her.

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First-Time Visitors

Importance of Hospitality and First-Time Visitors

When we were ministering in Rhode Island, every Sunday we would have at least 20 people for dinner after church. I would always prepare enough food for extra people knowing that there might be a first-time visitor, a new convert, or a discouraged person who just needed the fellowship.

It is funny that some churches put on their tracts “Friendliest Church in Town”, but when you attend their services, no one even acknowledges your presence. The members are all talking among themselves, while the visitors sit alone.

I was visiting with a lady this week and she told me that she had just recently visited a mega church. When she drove into the parking lot, a member greeted her and asked if she was visiting today or a member. The guest told the greeter that she was just visiting. The greeter handed the her a hanging card that read I Am Visiting Today. She was then told to place the card on her mirror, and the greeter directed this lady to parking places near the front door. These parking places had been set aside just for the visitors. This lady said, “I couldn’t believe it—cars everywhere, and I parked by the front door”.  Wow! I think we can all take a lesson from this. First-time visitors should be made to feel special when they attend our churches.

We were visiting a church in the Northwest, and the pastor told the first-time visitors during announcements, “Please meet me on the outdoor porch after services because I have a gift for you”.  When he met with them, he would give them a welcome packet with a small gift as a token of his appreciation for their first-time visit.

We visited another church in Virginia that included a beautiful CD with the various church ministries in their welcome packet.

If you are a church member and a first-time visitor comes into your church, invite him to lunch. If the visitor just moved to the area, give him your name and contact information and offer your assistance while he is getting accustomed to the area.

I remember the Sunday that I was a first-time visitor. I was a teenager and living a very wicked life. I had never been in a Baptist church, and I was pretty nervous. I sure wasn’t dressed like the other women! My brother and his wife had just been saved a short time and kept asking me to go to church with them. That Sunday morning I attended services with them; basically just to get my brother off my back. I thought, “If I go this one time—I will never have to go again.” That Sunday during the invitation, I was under deep conviction. My heart was beating so hard that I thought it would explode. I determined in my mind, “I’m not going forward—I would be too embarrassed”. But God had another plan for me. A godly deacon just happened to be sitting directly behind me. He tapped me on the shoulder and whispered, “Honey, if you want to go forward, my wife will go with you.” Those words were all I needed! With tears streaming down my cheeks, I went forward and gloriously received Christ as my Savior. Sometimes I think about that Sunday. “Would I be saved today if that kind deacon had not reached out to this first-time visitor?” Only the Lord knows.

Idea for a Visitor’s Welcome Center

Make your welcome center readily accessible for visitors. It is best to place it near the entrance to the church. Have someone who is friendly, cheerful, and out-going work behind the desk of your center.  Have a greeter stand near the center to direct visitors and their children to various classes.

Items needed for welcome center:

Welcome gifts or bags for first-time visitors. Instruct the visitor to fill out the visitor’s card and place it in the offering.

Brochures describing Sunday school classes, church projects, and current missionary projects.

CDs of outstanding sermons which might be a blessing to visitors and members.

Colorful and easy to read maps and directions to your facilities and classes.

Clear directional signs to the various classes.

If your church is located in a neighborhood with a different ethnic group of people,  don’t forget  to use their language for directions.


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