***Sorry this is so late!***
|(Each Sunday, This Day’s Thought is blessed to share Eric Elder’s sermons from his wonderful ministry, “The Ranch“)|
Assisting Others On Their Journey
Lesson 35 from Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind
One of the things I love about the human heart is that it’s wired to help others when they’re in need. I see this repeated over and over: when a natural disaster strikes a town, or when a terrible wrong is committed against someone who’s done right, or when a beloved friend passes away. When people see a need, they often respond with caring hearts.
But even though our hearts are wired to help others in need, sometimes we need a little prompting. Sometimes we need to remind our minds of the blessings we’ve received from others, and then our minds can nudge our hearts to respond as we should.
The Apostle Paul gives two such reminders in his letter to the Romans. The first comes when he tells them that he’s planning to visit them in the future when he passes through Rome on his way to Spain. Paul says:
“But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions, and since I have been longing for many years to see you, I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to visit you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while” (Romans 15:23-24).
While mentioning that he is looking forward to enjoying their company for a while, Paul also mentions that he hopes to have them assist him on his journey to Spain. I don’t think Paul was trying to “guilt” them into helping him on the next leg of his missionary journey. From what I’ve read about Paul in his other writings, I believe he simply knew that their hearts would want to help on his journey. After all, his own heart was wired in the same way.
In the very next paragraph, Paul mentions that he’s on his way to deliver a gift to the Jewish brothers and sisters who were in need in Jerusalem, gifts which he had collected from the churches in Macedonia and Achaia. Paul says:
“Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the saints there. For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings. So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this fruit, I will go to Spain and visit you on the way. I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ” (Romans 15:25-29).
Paul understood this blessing of giving and receiving, that when someone blesses you in your life, it is good and right and appropriate to share your blessings with them at some point in return, freely and voluntarily.
On a personal level, I know that my heart is often moved to help others on their journey, especially those who have been a blessing to me.
When I first became a Christian, I remember hearing about “tithes and offerings,” giving ten percent and more of your income to the work of God in the world. I hadn’t tithed before, not because I was against it, but because I simply didn’t have this principle in my mind yet. But once I understood this principle in my mind, my heart was glad to respond–thrilled to respond, in fact.
I remember some of the first “big” checks I wrote to support the work of God in the lives of missionary friends I knew (at least they were big to me, as I had never done this before). I was thrilled to be able to help my friends in a significant way each month. I didn’t feel obligated or guilted into it in any way. I just knew the blessing of hearing about Christ in my own life, and I was glad to help my friends share about Christ with others. It’s all part of this idea of giving and receiving–sharing with others the blessings that God has given to us.
Now that I’m in full-time ministry myself, I sometimes have to remind myself that when I share a need, God is often prompting others to respond at the same time. I have to remember that it’s not an obligation or a burden to others to hear about and respond to needs. It’s the way God has wired our hearts. Knowing this has helped me to be more open about my own needs in life, and I’ve been thankful to see how people have responded to those needs.
In the past few months, I’ve been amazed again at the generosity of others, including many of you, who have stepped in and helped my wife and I as we walk through my wife’s journey with cancer.
I have been humbled and reminded frequently just how good and kind and caring the human heart really is. Sometimes we miss this truth, especially when we are bombarded with such bad news about the wicked things that people have done in the world.
Of course there’s bad in the world. Of course, there’s wickedness, greed, evil, and depravity. But all of this stems from good hearts that have been corrupted by sin–usually related to some kind of selfishness. But when our hearts are right with God, something else takes over–something called selflessness; doing to others what you would have them do to you, and giving your life for the sake of others, just as Jesus gave His life for us.
Assisting others on their journey is not foreign to the human heart. But sometimes it takes a little prompting from our minds and the Holy Spirit to get our hearts in gear.
This week, I heard about some friends who have been praying about buying a van and a mammogram machine so they can go back to their home villages in Kenya and do cancer screenings for the women their. Perhaps because of my wife’s recent diagnosis, but my ears were especially attentive to their request, and my heart wanted to respond. I didn’t know what I could do or how I could help, but I was willing to find out.
I called my friends and listened as they talked about their hopes and dreams and prayers for this project. I’m still not sure what I can do yet, but now my heart and mind are both engaged and attuned to the need. As my friends move forward with their plans, perhaps we can find a way to take part along the way.
At the same time, I was surprised this week by a note from one of our readers overseas who asked if there was anything special Lana and I needed at this time. He had been blessed by our ministry and wanted to do something in return. Although I hesitated to share our personal needs with him, in the end I did share a few things that we had been praying about. Within a few hours, he had responded by saying he wanted to send a gift that would not only cover those needs that I had shared, but that would double the amount of what I had shared!
To me, this was a living example of what Paul was talking about in his letter to the Romans, when those who had received spiritual blessings responded by sending a gift of material blessings.
The human heart really is wired to respond to the needs of others, and often the only thing holding us back is making our minds aware of the needs around us so our hearts can respond.
With this in mind, I’d like to encourage you to be on the lookout for ways that God might want to use you to bless others, especially those who have been a blessing to you. Perhaps you have a friend or relative who has gone out of their way to spend some time with you. Perhaps you have a spiritual leader or mentor or ministry than has spoken into your life in a special way. Perhaps you have a project or a school or an organization which has been a blessing to you, and now you can be a blessing to them.
I know your heart is good and eager to assist others on their journey, but sometimes it takes a little reminder like this to jog your memory and bring it to the forefront of your mind.
I pray that as God renews your mind in this way, that the natural response of your heart will follow. Don’t ignore the promptings that God puts there. Don’t put them off until the feelings “go away.” Lean into those promptings and see what God may have in mind for you–and for those He wants to bless through you.
Will you pray with me?
Father, thank You for blessing us in various ways by the people around us. Help us to be attentive to their needs as well, so that we can be a blessing to them. Refresh our minds again today about practical ways that we can help them, then nudge our hearts to follow through on those thoughts. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Questions for Reflection
3. Who are some people in your life who have been a blessing to you? In what ways might you be able to bless them in return?
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31-Mar-12: Mark 10:32-34, 46-52
32 They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them what was to happen to him, 33 saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles; 34 they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again.”
heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” 50 So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” 52 Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.
*image source: google.com/images
27-Mar-12: Acts 2:14-24
4 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. 15 Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16 No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
17 ‘In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams.
18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show portents in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and smoky mist.
20 The sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.
21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
22 “You that are Israelites, listen to what I have to say: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know— 23 this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law. 24 But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power
14-Mar-12: Mark 11:15-19
15 Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves; 16 and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. 17 He was teaching and saying, “Is it not written,
‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’?
But you have made it a den of robbers.”
18 And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching. 19 And when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.
Even those who aren’t particularly sympathetic to Israel ‘s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, could get a good measure of satisfaction from this interview with British Television during the retaliation against Hamas’ shelling of Israel.
The interviewer asked him: “How come so many more Palestinians have been killed in this conflict than Israelis?” (A nasty question if there ever was one!)
Netanyahu: “Are you sure that you want to start asking in that direction?”
Interviewer: (Falling into the trap) Why not?
Netanyahu: “Because in World War II more Germans were killed than British and Americans combined, but there is no doubt in anyones mind that the war was caused by Germany ‘s aggression. And in response to the German blitz on London , the British wiped out the entire city of Dresden , burning to death more German civilians than the number of people killed in Hiroshima.
Moreover, I could remind you that in 1944, when the RAF tried to bomb the Gestapo Headquarters in Copenhagen, some of the bombs missed their target and fell on a Danish children’s hospital, killing 83 little children. Perhaps you have another question?”
Apparently, Benjamin Netanyahu gave an interview and was asked about Israel ‘s occupation of Arab lands.
His response was, “It’s our land”. The reporter (CNN or the like) was stunned.
Read below “It’s our land…” It’s important information since we don’t get fair and accurate reporting from the media and facts tend to get lost in the jumble of daily events.
“Crash Course on the Arab Israeli Conflict.”
Here are overlooked facts in the current & past Middle East situation.
These were compiled by a Christian university professor:
6. Jerusalem is mentioned over 700 times in Tanach, the Jewish Holy Scriptures. Jerusalem is not mentioned once in the Koran.
7. King David founded the city of Jerusalem . Mohammed never came to Jerusalem .
8. Jews pray facing Jerusalem . Muslims pray with their backs toward Jerusalem .
9. Arab and Jewish Refugees: in 1948 the Arab refugees were encouraged to leave Israel by Arab leaders promising to purge the land of Jews . Sixty-eight percent left without ever seeing an Israeli soldier.
10. The Jewish refugees were forced to flee from Arab lands due to Arab brutality, persecution and pogroms.
11. The number of Arab refugees who left Israel in 1948 is estimated to be around 630,000. The number of Jewish refugees from Arab lands is estimated to be the same.
12. Arab refugees were INTENTIONALLY not absorbed or integrated into the Arab lands to which they fled, despite the vast Arab territory. Out of the 100,000,000 refugees since World War II, theirs is the only refugee group in the world that has never been absorbed or integrated into their own people’s lands. Jewish refugees were completely absorbed into Israel , a country no larger than the state of New Jersey ..
13. The Arab-Israeli Conflict: the Arabs are represented by eight separate nations, not including the Palestinians. There is only one Jewish nation. The Arab nations initiated all five wars and lost. Israel defended itself each time and won.
14. The PLO’s Charter still calls for the destruction of the State of Israel. Israel has given the Palestinians most of the West Bank land, autonomy under the Palestinian Authority, and has supplied them.
15. Under Jordanian rule, Jewish holy sites were desecrated and the Jews were denied access to places of worship. Under Israeli rule, all Muslim and Christian sites have been preserved and made accessible to people of all faiths.
16. The UN Record on Israel and the Arabs: of the 175 Security Council resolutions passed before 1990, 97 were directed against Israel .
17. Of the 690 General Assembly resolutions voted on before 1990, 429 were directed against Israel .
18. The UN was silent while 58 Jerusalem Synagogues were destroyed by the Jordanians.
19. The UN was silent while the Jordanians systematically desecrated the ancient Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives .
20. The UN was silent while the Jordanians enforced an apartheid-like a policy of preventing Jews from visiting the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.
Israel is the center of Bible Prophecy, and God Blesses those who Bless Israel – Genesis 12:3
|This message was sent from:Bibles For Israel | P.O. Box 8900 | Pueblo, CO 81008|
Two works of mercy set a man free: forgive and you will be forgiven, and give and you will receive.
For surely, O LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.
The New International Version
The inn of a traveler on the way to Jerusalem.
Inscription on the grave of Dean Alford