Tuesday, February 6, 2018
Psalms 146:1-2, 7-9 ( NIV ) Praise the LORD. Praise the LORD, O my soul. I will praise the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live…He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free, the LORD gives sight to the blind, the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves the righteous. The LORD watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow…
I have a deep respect for people who serve the LORD by meeting the needs of others. It is a refreshing breath of spiritual air to hear about humble servants of God who sacrifice their own desires for the sake of touching someone else’s life with grace. So much of the spiritual air we breathe today is self-centered and self-serving. Selfishness surrounds us. We declare ourselves to be the needy ones. We demand the attention of others. We seek to be served rather than serve. But every once in a while a person comes along who reflects the heart of Jesus to seek out and serve some of the “least of these.”
One such example is a pastor friend of mine whom I used to get to spend time with years ago, but because of God’s leading into different areas of ministry we don’t get together in person any more. He lives in Louisiana, and once pastored a church on a bayou where the land sits below sea level. His name is Jerry. Following hurricanes Katrina and Rita, he had a passion to use his skills and resources to rebuild people’s houses. Our church used to send work crews there to assist in the rebuilding efforts.
I remember one specific trip when 22 of us went down to work on a specific house. It was located just two houses down from the church. The house the people currently live in is a mess because it was on ground level when the storm surge flooded it. The new house will be built 12 feet up on huge poles. We will be framing in the house, putting rafters up, and putting on the roof.
What’s amazing about this project is that these people have no connection to the church. In fact, according to Pastor Jerry’s assessment, these people would be the most unlikely people on the whole bayou to ever respond to the love of Jesus. That’s why Jerry chose to help them.
Praise the LORD for people like Jerry who intentionally sacrifice their own resources to help those who, because of their life choices, are the least likely to respond to grace. If only all our hearts were so moved by the love and compassion of Jesus. If only we would understand that God’s greatest work is done in the lives of the most needy. If only that we would see God’s heart is focused on the broken and humbled and not the proud and self-sufficient.
Here in the Chippewa Valley we have people like that. They serve at the Hope Gospel Mission, at the Ruth House, at APPLE Pregnancy Care Center, at the emergency shelters for battered women, at the community table, and in numerous other ministries that focus on hurting and hopeless people. These servants have sacrificed their lives for others because the love of Jesus has captivated their hearts. These servants believe that God still does miracles today – miracles of providing food for the hungry, setting prisoners free from the bondage of their sin, giving hope to the hopeless and help to the helpless.
I’m proud to be a part of a church that has such a heart. I’m excited about our partnership with those ministries I mentioned as they reach out to help those in need. I’m glad that God is teaching me to be a true giver of His love without expecting any earthly return on the investment. It will be a miraculous day in the life of the church of Jesus Christ when we all live for the benefit of others and not ourselves. That day is possible as we allow the heart of Jesus to captivate our lives and see others the way he sees them.
Living for Jesus is not about what Jesus will continue to do for me – He has already done everything for me by saving me from my sin and granting me access to God the Father for all eternity. Living for Jesus is about serving others – no matter who they are – and connecting them to the love of God.
I want to say thank you to those of you who have been my examples – you know who you are. I want to challenge the rest of you to set your hearts on things above, and not on the things of the earth. God’s greatest miracles are yet to be seen, and they will be seen in the lives of people who are the most least likely to respond.