Tag Archives: Serve

Religion!

“I got religion” was the folksy expression I sometimes heard growing up in the deep South when someone accepted Jesus.  As for me, I spent most of those years running awayfrom religion.  And from God. But the Lord was relentless in His pursuit.  In time, I surrendered to His free gift of Grace.  I came to understand that following Christ was about a relationship—not a religion.  Salvation was made possible only through the costly blood of God’s Son. No wonder they call it “Amazing Grace.”

James prods us to practice true religion.  He’s not talking here about religion as a ticket to heaven.  Rather, religion in this context, refers to the practical expression of our devotion to the Lord:

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you(James 1:27 NLT).

The Greek word translated “religion” is threskosseldom used in the New Testament.  Threskos describes outward service rather than our inward piety of heart. It’s all about our actions. True religion, according to James must involve acts of mercy, love, and holiness.

Let’s look at this same versein the Amplified Bible:

External religious worship[religion as it is expressed in outward acts] that is pure and unblemished in the sight of God the Father is this: to visit and help and care for the orphans and widows in their affliction and need, and to keep oneself unspotted and uncontaminated from the world (James 1:27 AMP).

We are saved only by grace through faith. Our faith is the foundation for all of our good works. Good works cannot earn our salvation. But If we truly want to please the Lord, we’ll be intentional to pour our life out in service to the hurting ones around us. Especially the widows and orphans.

James reminds uswe must also not forget the purity of our own life. We are called to holiness. That’s the kind of religion, he challenges, that pleases the Lord.

So I’m asking God to show me who is on His heart.  I want to be sensitive to His Spirit. Alert to practical ways I can serve those in need.  Especially during this Christmas season as we celebrate the birth of His son.  I’ve also prayed for the Holy Spirit to correct me in areas I need to clean up—it’s so easy to slide into the self-centered ways of the world.

Today, as we step out into our world, let’s dare to pray the prayer God always answers:  Lord, break my heart for what breaks Yours.


21 Day Experiment-Day 19

I noticed my well-worn Bible sitting on my bedside table; the collection of prayer journals stacked below. Reminders of the times I’d seen God move in my life. Answered prayers, healings, even a few miracles. A testimony to my close walk with the Lord.

Then, it hit me. If my Christian life was only about my relationship with the Lord, my world of personal concerns, and my blessings, then so what?

Now don’t get me wrong. I am incredibly thankful for my relationship with the Lord. I treasure those prayer journals—their record of answered prayers; footsteps of my journey with Christ; knowledge I’d gained through years of Bible study.

But as important as these blessings are, they were given to me so that I would be a blessing to others.  As God said to Abraham, we are blessed so that we will be a blessing to others (Genesis 12:2,3).

I sensed the Holy Spirit quietly whispering, “Your life is either a so what or a so that.”

That scenario—just as I described it—happened over twenty years ago. My epiphany that day marked a dramatic shift.  I began to look for ways to step out of my well-managed life and into a broken world. That shift has since taken me to those who are hurting in my own neighborhood. To fragile communities all over the world.

So many are thirsty for the good news of Jesus Christ. As we approach the final chapters of John’s gospel, we catch a glimpse of John’s purpose in sharing his eye witness account.

He writes, “The man who saw it has given testimony…He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe” (John 19:35).   John’s words are for us.  He told his story of Jesus so that you and I, and all that have come before us or after us, may believe!

No doubt John was blessed by his close relationship with Jesus. He was also blessed to be an eye-witness to Jesus’ signs and wonders. All of these blessings were so that he would be a blessing. So that others will believe. How can we do less?

Prayer: Lord, once again, I ask this same questionIs my life a “so what?” or a “so that?” I listen for Your whispers today, alert to Your nudges. Who is on Your heart? Show me how, even in a small way, I can be a blessing to someone who needs Your touch.


30 Days of Hopeful: Day 15

Some of your personal hopes and dreams may be big ones.  Enormous, in fact.  A baby. A spouse. The healing of a life threatening disease. God often says a quick “yes” to our prayers. But sometimes, He says “wait.”  Perhaps we have some growing to do before the answer comes.

The reality of life on earth is that we are always waiting for something. Always hoping.   Always dreaming. The challenge is to keep our hope alive in the middle of circumstances we don’t like so much.

We can learn to wait for our answers with joyful expectation. What we don’t want to do is give up. Accept the status quo. Lower our expectations, or worse, find ways to numb out. Too much social media, shopping, work, wine. There are plenty of pain killers out there. Problem is, they often kill our hopes, too.

Here are a few practical ways to kindle your fires of hope—even in the middle of a storm:

  1. First take care of your house–your physical house, that is. You can’t control when your dream comes true, but you can take steps to clean up your act. Be sure to eat well and get enough exercise. Get rid of known sin. Bad habits. Be ruthless. Hunt them down. Hebrews 12:1 challenges us to “throw off whatever hinders and the sin that so easily besets…and run our race with perseverance.”
  2. Take care of your actual house—your home. While you are waiting is a great time to declutter your surroundings.   It can be healing to clear out what you don’t need. Give it away. Simplify. Create structure. Order. Peace.
  3. Explore and develop your spiritual gifts. “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10).  You’ll find your life as you give it away.
  4. Rest more. Go to the Lord often. Soak in the promises of His Word. “Come to me you who are heavy laden,” said Jesus, “and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28-30). It takes energy to fight the fight of faith. To hold onto your hope while you wait for your dream.
  5. Don’t travel alone. Find your teammates. God gives you endurance and encouragement through His Word to help you keep hope alive (Hebrews 15:4-6). He also gives us unity in spirit. Fellow believers. Prayer partners. The body of Christ.

 

 


40 Day Challenge: Week Six

Week Six:  ANSWER God’s Call

Do you long to know that your life on earth makes a difference?  Even children want to discover their purpose.   My husband’s father, the late Dr. Howard Chadwick, served God faithfully as a minister for over seventy years.  He used to encourage our three children to search for their life’s calling.  “Look around you at the needs you see in the world,”  he would tell them.  “Then take an honest look at your own gifts and talents.  Your calling may be found where those two intersect.” Continue reading