Do What You Can

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Mark 14:3-9 (NIV), “While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly. “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

This woman did what she could for Jesus. To some it seemed a waste, to Jesus it meant everything.

I read the story of Fanny Crosby who was blind from shortly after birth and she wrote over 8,000 hymns and gospel songs. Her personal life wasn’t great, marital rift, death of her only baby, and living destitute in the slums. Yet, at age 60 dedicated her life to serving in Rescue Missions. She wrote “Blessed Assurance” and “To God Be the Glory.” Her tombstone read: “Aunty Fanny, She hath done what she could.” Her songs are still blessing people today.

Then there is Irena Sendler, a Polish nurse who smuggle over 2,500 babies out of Warsaw ghettos during Hitler’s reign. She used her imagination smuggling them out in suitcases, mechanics tool boxes, and even coffins. Keeping detailed information of where she put each child, she did what she could to reunite the families after the war. She couldn’t stop the war, but she didn’t let that stop her from doing what she could.

Victoria Soto, hid her students during the school shooting at Sandy Hook, and died protecting them. This teacher couldn’t save the whole school, or even her own life, but she did what she could.

What about Jael, in the Bible. Sisereas was attacking Israel and Deborah and Barak were leading the charge against him. They finally got him on the run and this unknown, unimportant woman invited Sisereas into her tent. When he asked her for water, this smart woman gave him warm milk, hid him under some blankets and when he dozed off drove a tent peg through his temple. In those days women didn’t go to battle. It was already a miracle that Deborah was along for the ride. (Judges 4) Yet this one woman won the war. She did what she could.

There are literally millions of stories about people who changed the world, or changed a life, by their actions. Most didn’t plan to do it, but when the opportunity came, they took it. Had Irena Sendler rescued only one or two children, her accomplishment would have been no less. If you have ever read Chicken Soup for…they are filled with stories of people who did small things and changed lives.

Sometimes the battle looks too big, circumstances huge, and like there is no way one person can help.

This unknown author says, “Instead of doing nothing because I am overwhelmed, today I will do something, even if it is small, because it will be one step closer to the goal.”

Mother Theresa said, “In this life we cannot always do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”

I love J.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. One of my favorite saying from Gandalf is this one, “Some believe that it is only great power that an hold evil in check, but that is not what I’ve found. I have found it is the small things. Everyday deeds, by ordinary folk that keeps the darkness away.”

Think about that. Kissing our kids goodnight, giving someone a ride to church, smiling at the girl in the checkout, leaving a larger than expected tip at a restaurant, reading your bible, not letting the world get you down, or laughing and sharing a meal with friends. These things are the opposite of darkness, and when we do them the light of His love drives the darkness away.

Our society is obsessed with long life and anti-aging, but it isn’t the duration of a life that matters, it is the donation!

Luke 16:10 “”Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.”

If we are faithful in these little things, God may use us in a big way, or He may just want us to keep heaping up these little things until they are all one big thing. My father-in-law loved to find pennies. He never did the “lucky penny” thing, but he would smile put one in his pocket and say, “pennies make dollars!” Small things turn into big things!

Can you share a meal, sew on a button, make a cake, babysit for a friend, spend some time in prayer, donate some time at school…?

Do what you can!

Make a Difference

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“We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.” ~ Winston Churchill

We are blessed in America. Even our poorest are better off than people who live in third world countries. Sometimes it seems overwhelming. We live in our safe houses, in safe communities, and drive our safe cars. So sometimes we forget about “them” and only think about “us.” Then on the flip side, we know that there are evils in the world, human trafficking, drug abuse, child abuse, all types of sexual perversity, and things better left unsaid. When we think about those things, happening even right here in America, we can go into ostrich mode and want to bury our heads in the sand and pretend it doesn’t exist. Sometimes just thinking about all of those hurting people, and all of those who have been doing the hurting, can just seem too overwhelming, especially as a Christian. We sympathize with some and want to judge others, but we aren’t sure what we can do about it.

There are some great organizations out there that try to stop the bleeding. There are even more Churches that reach out all over the world to help others. I am proud to say I belong to one of them. In the face of the numbers it can seem a pretty pathetic attempt at saving the world. But, I am reminded of a story about the Good Shepherd. He left the whole flock to go and seek that one little lost sheep.

Matthew 18:12 (NLT), “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost?”

We need to change the way we think about changing the world. As Christians isn’t that our job? To bring Heaven to earth and show the world how much God loves them? We may not be able to save a whole nation, or even a small community, but we can help a family, or a single person. God lays things on the hearts of His people. Maybe at some point you had a driving urge to give to someone in need, or your heart was torn over the story of a young girl sold into sexual slavery. What did you do about it? Sometimes the only thing we can do is pray, and sometimes we can give some finances. However, if there is something we can do personally, we should do more than “throw some money at it.” Maybe you can’t spend a fortune, or have unlimited time, but I firmly believe that if you pray and seek God, He will show you how you can help.

Let’s face it; the world seems to be going to hell in a hand basket. We need to step up to the plate and do what God has commissioned us to do. Time is short, don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Feel like tackling a bigger project? Talk to your family, or your neighbors, your Church family and make a plan. For some of us it is something big. I have read about people quitting their lucrative jobs to go out and feed the hungry, some who sold everything to live in a motor home and travel helping wherever they could. Maybe your part is to keep that great job and fund those who can and want to go out on the streets. We all need to do our part.

God’s love turns people to repentance, it changes hearts and lives. How many people need to know that? A great open door is by helping in some way, big or small. Hearts are softened when someone cares. It’s easier to talk about spiritual needs when physical needs are met. Have you ever tried to talk to a hungry child right before lunch? As a teacher that was one of the hardest times to hold their attention. What if they hadn’t eaten all day, or for were constantly hungry? How can we tell a homeless person that God loves them, that we love them, when we can’t offer a crust of bread or a warm blanket?

It’s can be easy, once we set our mind to help, to do so for the poor. It’s harder to make a difference in a convict’s life, a drug addict, or a greedy man who’s wealth is his god.

If we can stop judging others, see them as God does and allow ourselves to be led by His Spirit, even those, who God loves too, can be reached. We are called to live in the Spirit. If we really do this, we will be compelled to make a difference. You will be amazed at the ideas of how and when.

Romans 8:5 (ESV), “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.”

There is no such thing as making a “small difference”. If you have helped one person in even the seemingly most insignificant way, God will bless that.

Acts 9:36 (NASB), “Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which translated in Greek is called Dorcas); this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did.”

Tabitha is still remembered today, yes partly because she was raised from the dead, but also because she took her faith and put it to action. She sewed clothes for the widows and orphans. You may think, “I don’t have the money or the time, but God is the one who gives us the seed to sow and the seed to eat. He provides for us and gives us enough (time, money, energy, materials, etc) to give to others!

II Corinthians 9:6-15 (NIV), “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.” Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”

We just need to step out in faith. Some may not want our help, others will accept it and then be ungrateful, but there will be those whose hearts are changed and their lives will reflect it. Some will be inspired and will even go on to help others. It’s called “paying it forward.”

Make a difference in someone’s life today. You can start by smiling, and being friendly, and then move on to bigger things. Don’t despise small beginnings, and never let your failures (yep, there will be a few) stop you from doing what you know you should.

God bless you!