For I Was Hungry and You Gave Me Something to Eat…

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me” (Matthew 25:34-36).

It is impossible to read the gospel and ignore Christ’s clear teaching to welcome, love, and care for the needy and the poor.

Passages like this haunt me. Not because they are not clear but because I don’t know how.

I don’t know how to apply this at a personal level, and I don’t know how to apply this at an organizational level.

The Little Church on the Prairie and Lakewoodgrace is an amazingly gracious and generous congregation. Our people are involved in ministry that has direct impact on the poor, the homeless, and the hungry in our community. The city is better because of what God is doing through the Little Church and Lakewoodgrace.

Christ beckons us to join him at his work.

Francis Schaeffer wrote in his book, The Mark of a Christian, “Upon Jesus’ authority he gives the world the right to judge whether you and I are born-again Christians on the basis of our observable love toward others.”

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Ask the poor. They will tell you who the Christians are.”

Friends, will you join me in praying and discovering more practical ways we can be about loving, caring for, and taking care of our neighbors. God already knows how we can do this. It’s our job to pray so we can hear and discern God’s leadership.

Thank you for the ways you’re already engaged in ministry. Thank you for your financial contributions which go toward alleviating hunger. Thank you for doing your part to volunteer and support the ministry of Christ through the Little Church and Lakewoodgrace!

Consider it Pure Joy…

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.(James 1:2-4).

What a crazy thing to say…consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds? How can that be?

For the Christian, suffering is not a matter of if but when. Christ suffered. Disciples suffered. We are told in 2 Timothy 3:12, “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

1 Peter 4:12-13, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.”

This doesn’t mean you should go out looking for persecution and suffering. That would be dumb. But what it does mean is that when trials and tribulations do come our way, they are given meaning and purpose.

Here is the amazing thing about the Christian faith: the Bible tells us that suffering has a purpose. Suffering tells us that we are on the right path. Suffering draws us closer to God. Suffering shows us our need for God. Suffering helps us to grow in maturity. Suffering makes us more like Christ.

Simon Wiel wrote: “The extreme greatness of Christianity lies in the fact that it does not seek a supernatural remedy for suffering but a supernatural use for it.”

Christians look to suffering not only as a place of pain, but as a place of meeting God. Suffering does not merely happen to us. It works in us!

Trust Your God and Live!

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you” (Psalm 56:3).

This verse sounds so beautiful, so comforting, so nice. I like it. I like it a lot.

And once you see the context in which this trust is uttered, you will like it even more. Here is the context:

Be merciful to me, my God,
for my enemies are in hot pursuit;
all day long they press their attack.
My adversaries pursue me all day long;
in their pride many are attacking me.
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise –
in God I trust and am not afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?

The psalmist utters our verse of the day vowing his trust in God while being attacked by his adversaries. Death and betrayal is all around him. He’s not sure if he’s going to make it to the end of the day. Yet the psalmist declares: “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”

How? What is the source of such confident trust?

The character of God revealed in the Bible!

The Apostle Paul reminds us in Romans 8:33-37:

Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

So, what are you going through today? Is there anything in the created universe that can separate you from the love of God?

Therefore, put your trust in God and live!