Work While it is Day

Read
John 9:4-5 NIV 
[Jesus said] As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world. 

Reflect 
When we lived in Tanzania, power outages were a regular occurrence. My older children would declare that the transformer that served our compound must have been “on the boat with Columbus.” My youngest son’s first words were in Swahili and he blurted out: “No electricity Mama?” We learned early to make sure that work that needed daylight would be done in the day – if not, it would not get done that day. When night fell it was so dark all work ceased.  

Missionaries and evangelists have been sent throughout the world with the lifesaving, life-giving message of the gospel. Many people have been brought to faith in Jesus through their efforts, but there is much more work to be done. Sadly, in some countries, the open window of opportunity for evangelism is rapidly closing. The gospel is still powerful to save, but anti-Christian governments and cultural movements increasingly hinder the work of those who preach Christ crucified. These missionaries know that they must “work while it is day.” 

Jesus made the most of every opportunity he had while he was on earth. He accomplished everything his Father sent him to do, reaching out to the lost, comforting those who mourned, healing both bodies and souls. And then when the time came, he laid down his life for us so that we might live with him. 

I remember with much clarity and much pain of a man that I went to visit in hospital at my first church. I did not know him. His name was given to me by his friend. We had a good chat and established where each of us were in the area of spiritual life. He was not a believer, but he would “think about it.” I prayed with him and left expecting to see him in a couple of days. On my next visit I learned that he had passed away. I felt that I had missed an opportunity to sharer the good news of Jesus Christ and it changed how I approached other such opportunities. 

Do you know someone who is not yet in the kingdom of God? Someone with just a little faith. The daylight is fading, share your faith before the night comes.  Our time in this world is a lot shorter than any of us realize. The opportunity to speak today may no longer be there tomorrow. Keep in mind the hope and joy you have from knowing what Jesus Christ has done for you. Wouldn’t you want others to have those same blessings? And wouldn’t they appreciate having that peace sooner rather than later? 

Pray 
Dear Lord Jesus, give me the strength to speak to those who need your forgiveness. Give me courage to stand in faith and be your servant. Amen. 

Encouragement

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, – Hebrews 10:24 (NIV)

Reflect
Early in my carpentry career I made a lot of mistakes. My boss was very quick to let me know that my mistake really was a very “bone headed move.” Those moments never made me feel good, even though I knew that it was not very well thought through. Most often my boss would follow up with a comment about how much I had learned and that I was on a good course for my future as a carpenter. 

The word used for encouragement here means “to stand alongside.” It has to do with standing alongside someone to let them know you care, and you will be there for them. It is the same word used to describe the Holy Spirit who stands alongside of us. 

People all around us need encouragement. Moms who have their children with them all day long. Dads & moms worrying about the uncertainty of work and finances. To some degree we are all a little worried about when the COVID-1virus sickness will end and how life will change for all of us in the future. As a follower of Jesus, we need to be encouraged because Jesus has blazed a path before us. A path that he has conquered and made straight for us. 

Even without the threat of COVID-19 there are plenty of pressures and struggles that cause people stress, uncertainty and stress. Be encouraged because our God will never leave us or forsake us (Duet. 31:6 – 8; Josh. 1:5; Heb.13:5). See if you can be an encourager. It can be an addictive and healthy habit. Encouraging people can bring joy for those who are struggling and for you. 

Pray 
Thank you for your promise to never leave or forsake us. Make me a person that brings words and acts of kindness and support for those who need some help. Amen. 

Came to Serve

(Jesus said) “Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. – Matthew 20:26-28 (NIV)

Reflect
Do you remember the WWJD bracelets? WWJD stands for What Would Jesus Do?
Unfortunately, just wearing a bracelet doesn’t mean I actually do what it says. Following Jesus, imitating him is hard for many reasons. For one, Jesus is perfect, while we are broken sinners, and we always move towards selfishness. In addition, it can be hard to know what Jesus would actually do if he were in our situation.

But Jesus’ words to his disciples can lead us in the right direction. Jesus said that we are to be servants to others, just as he lived a life of service to all by giving up his life.

What does that look like for us today? Maybe that means giving a little more grace to your spouse or your children in the midst of this Covid 19 “stay at home” time. Maybe you see a need in our community that is not being met and do something about it. When you live a life of service, you are letting your light shine so that people might see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).

Oddly enough when we try to imitate Jesus, we tend to see how far short we fall from his example. That is why Jesus came to be more than just a good example. He came to be our substitute. He came to give his life as a ransom for our sins. Knowing that our sins of self-service are forgiven allows us a fresh start every day. Not only will this be a blessing to those we are called to serve, but you will discover a joy and fulfillment that serving yourself could never bring.

Pray
Lord Jesus, thank you for serving me by giving your life. Lead me to give my life in service towards others. Amen.

Serving Over Self

Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. – Mark 10:43-44 (NIV)

Reflect
“Life is not about you; it is about what you can do for others.” Growing up I heard that statement many times from my father. Not only did my father say those words to me he lived them right in front of me. Our country home was on a half-acre lot. More than half of the lot was a vegetable garden. One day I asked my mother why dad had such a huge garden. After all there were only four of us (including mom& dad) that were at home. She told me to be patient and to watch & learn. When harvest time came that year, I watched my dad pull 13 burlap sacks from the trunk of his car and lay them out in the garden. He carefully picked, uprooted and cleaned the vegetables from the garden. He then packed each burlap bag as full as could be with all the produce. I helped dad carry the bags to the car. When the trunk was full, off he drove and came back for more bags later. Again, I asked my mom, “Why do we do all that work in the garden just so dad can give away all the food.” Mom said, “Your dad is taking each full bag to one of the widows in the church to help them with their groceries.”

The ways of the world (society and human nature) say put yourself first, compete to find your own satisfaction. Jesus here said the exact opposite to his followers: “Be a servant.” As believers in Jesus and followers of Jesus, we are to model our lives after Him! God’s view of greatness is based on being a servant, the very thing Jesus did at great personal cost!

Pray
Father, in this season of Lent, please help us to come to the end of ourselves and serve those around us in the same way Jesus set the example for us!

Even Greater Things

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. -John 14:12 (NIV)

Reflect
When I was told that I was going to see the irrigation system that had been built in a remote place in Ethiopia I envisioned pumps, large hose lines and sprayers. That is often the thinking we in the developed world would approach a project in a developing nation. To my amazement I saw people using primitive tools and hard physical labour to accomplish an incredible irrigation system. The people diverted a small portion of water from a nearby river, built a very small canal out of stone & cement and used the grade of the land to irrigate some sixty plus acres of land. This land had been turned from a barren scrub brush covered land into a beautiful oasis filled with vegetables and even banana plants. It also literally provided life for some of these farmers. The most interesting thing to learn was that the only critical activity they needed to attend to was keeping debris from the canal. If that became blocked there was no water flow and the irrigation would cease.

Jesus promised that while we are living in this world, we will be able to do the same great work that He did while He was in this world. And He said we will do even greater things than He did after His resurrection and His trip back to heaven to be with His Father. Just like the canal provided the pathway for life giving water to the plants, a clear connection to Jesus and His teachings is the lifeline for doing great works as Jesus did, and even greater works.

Pray
Jesus, you have promised a life filled with discovery, joy, peace, learning and giving as I serve. Help me to live and learn your word and live a life that always thinks of you first and ready to serve others.

Chosen to Make an Impact

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit – fruit that will last. – John 15:16 (NIV)

Reflect
Growing up, I liked to play softball with friends after school or on weekends. We would meet in the park and chose teams. I was not the most talented or skilled player and so I would sometimes be one of the last ones to get picked. It was scary wondering if you would be one of the last ones to be picked or if someone was going to have to take you to be on their team because you were the last one left. But what a difference during the summer when I would spend time on my grandparents’ farm and the local cousins would get together to play softball in a cow pasture. There, you were not chosen because of your talent or skill, but because you were family. Jesus did not choose us because of our talent or skill, but because we are family. And he did not choose us to play softball but to go and bear fruit.

The way we bear fruit is by telling others about him and showing them Christ’s love in a tangible way. In these uncertain times, Jesus has chosen us to make an impact by sharing his love with those who need hope and help. We do not need a lot of talent to share Christ’s love with others. It can be as easy as a phone call, a willingness to pick up some milk or eggs for them, or even sending an encouraging text or email. Jesus has chosen us to share his love so that others can also become a part of his family.

Pray
Jesus, thank you for choosing me to make an impact on others. Help me to show your love towards others in such a way that they will want to become a part of your family too.