Show Up & Serve Your Community

Last week was hard.  This week is hard. I look out into my community to see crying hearts pleading to be heard, to be seen. 

It feels like we are on a never-ending merry-go-around.  Instances happen.  Emotions erupt. Statements are made.  Peace eventually comes.  After a period of time the next instance occurs.  When will it end?  Who is the next name on the list?

Each time the division grows wider and wider. Voices become louder.  Community is fractured further. 

Grief is hard. The heart desires to be ‘get over it’ but knows it can only learn to live through it. Words spoken with good intention don’t seem to help.  In a special way silent presence is the most comforting thing one can do. 

Now is a time to not continue the arguments to win the debate.  We must come together as a community to reach out to those who are hurting.  We need to show up & serve.  

Showing Up and Serving takes the form of donating household goods for families who are not able to get to a store. 

Showing Up & Serving takes the form sitting beside another listening to their story.  It does not try to ‘fix things’ but simply listening and learning.

Showing Up & Serving takes the form of cleaning up as the community begins to rebuild.

The pain will not disappear in one day.  But right now, today, we can show up to sit with another as they process their pain.  We can share love in silent action of serving & being present. 

As you go about your day see those in your life who are hurting.  Show up for them.  Share love in silent presence.  Share love in prayer. Serve them how ever they need in the moment. 

Brothers and sisters let us bring our community back together through love.  Let us as resolved followers of Jesus Christ show up for one another in love.  Words are not required.  Our presence shares God’s love.

This Week’s Challenge

Show up and serve one in your community.  Serve as they have need in that moment.

Acts 9: You Don’t Have to Change to Serve God

“But the Lord said, ‘Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel.’”

Acts 9:15

Have you ever thought you needed to change first before you could serve God?

This week we meet Paul.  At the end of Chapter 8 we see a man called Saul (the same guy we know as Paul) watching the stoning of Steven. Saul made it his mission to eradicate the followers of Jesus.  He saw them as opposition to the Jewish faith so he used his passion & determination to defeat them. 

One day on his journey to a new town Saul meets the Ascended Jesus.  Through their interaction Jesus tells him to go into the city to await further guidance. This conversation is known as Paul’s conversion.  Paul goes on to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the Gentiles (those not of the Jewish faith) and kings.  He wrote more than half of the New Testament with some of his letters.  

God did have Paul change who he was once called to serve.  Instead God used Paul’s passion & determination to go into new cities & cultures sharing the Gospel.  We will learn more from Paul as we study through Acts. For right now we learn how God calls anyone to serve without the expectation of changing one’s personality. 

Paul was determined to stop the Christians because he saw them as opposition to the Jewish faith.  He got support from leadership to go town to town to arrest any Christians in that town. But when God called him to share the Gospel of Jesus God did not ask Paul to stop being determined or displaying leadership.  Rather God used that same determination &  leadership in the name of Jesus.

Paul made 3 missionary trips and ended up in Rome, the virtual capital of the world, sharing the Gospel & starting churches in each town. Paul now became determined to tell everyone about Jesus and led others to begin following the Way in their own lives. 

As God is calling you to serve you do not need to change who you are first before you can serve.  The traits that make you unique are the very ones God wants to use to share the Gospel with people in your life.  

If you love hosting people at gatherings to hang out think how you can now gather people to hear the Gospel.

If you enjoy creating music & playing see how you can use those loves to communicate God’s love to others.

If you enjoy being creative with materials, how can that creativity can articulate aspects of God’s unconditional love for each of us.

God is calling you to serve as you are where you are. Don’t not believe the adversary’s (Satan) lies trying to convince you that you have to change first before God can use you.  Hear the Holy Spirit whisper in your heart that you are perfect just as you are. God wants to use your uniqueness to share the Gospel in the world. 

As you go about your week see how God is using your uniqueness.  Dream how you can use that uniqueness to share your story with Jesus Christ. Pray with God for the opportunities to share & the courage to step into those moments. 

Keep being yourself.  Grow more into the individual God has created you to be in this life. Be as Paul, committed to the Lord Jesus Christ, just as you are.

This Week’s Challenge

Write in your journal how God has created you unique.  For each trait, write how you can share your story about Jesus with that trait.

Acts 6: Chosen to Serve

“And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility.”

Acts 6:3

As the Church grew in size it grew in infrastructure. In other words, there was more work to be done.  Therefore more volunteers were needed.  Some of the believers did not think they were receiving a fair portion of the gifts. The Disciples were busy with teaching and leading so they were not available to settle the dispute.  The solution? Select 7 men to oversee the project.  Our first instance of delegation in the early Church.

Among the seven chosen was Stephen.  He was a man “full of faith and of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 6:5). Stephen was a man who loved Jesus and loved people. He humbly led the distribution to ensure everyone received a fair amount.  He is an example for us today of living The 168 Life.  He went about his day serving the Lord in word and action.

His life was such an example of the The 168 Life that the Temple leaders took notice and tried to get him to stop.  They gathered false testimony against him so to charge him with blasphemy (speaking falsely against God). But this did not stop Stephen.  He shared his love for Jesus even when a jail sentence was threatening.

See, Stephen was chosen by God to serve in the Church and with his life.  Stephen knew that God was with him every step of the way.  He did not need to fear the lies that were being said against him.  He trusted God to protect him even if it meant death (That’s next week’s post).

For us today, we are chosen by God to serve.  Some it is as a pastor or on a church staff.  Others it may be as a teacher guiding children on their learning journey.  Still others in the medical profession caring for people.  Or in the corporate world helping products & systems get to people. 

Wherever God has led you, you have been chosen by God to serve right where you are as you are.  Fancy degrees are not necessary.  Simply be like Stephen telling people about Jesus in word and action.  As you do your job work with integrity leading by example.  As you go about your personal life care for friends and neighbors with love.  

When difficulties arise, probably not as severe as false testimony like for Stephen, trust that God is with you always. You have been chosen to serve.  Be confident in the gifts & passions God has placed in your heart. 

As you start each day ask God where/who you are being led to serve.  Seek for the opportunities to share why you love Jesus.  Care for another who may not be expecting the gift of service. You can open the door for the person behind you or the one coming in as you are leaving a building.  Or smile to another as you pass each other on the sidewalk or bike trail.

Each of these are small services we are all called (directed) by God to do as disciples. Each one share the love of God with the world.

So go out chosen disciple of Jesus Christ.  Go out and serve as you have been gifted to serve.

This Week’s Challenge

Write down at the end of each day how you serve someone that day with the love of God.  Did you help a neighbor? Reach out to a friend to check on them?  Run an errand for someone that was not able to do so themselves?