Thursday, July 22, 2010

What's your problem?

Hello brothers and sisters of the Revolution! If this is your first visit to A Good Bible Study, welcome!

We currently are reading The Revolution Devotional Workbook and Field Journal, by Joyce Meyer. You can visit the Joyce Meyer site for the workbook, or just follow along with me here. Catch up to us in the first chapter.

And for those of you who have been following along, welcome back! I'm so glad you are with me as we seek God's presence. We'll get much more out of this time together if we begin in prayer:

"Father, I thank you for every eye on this page, for every heart seeking your love, and your wisdom. We ask you to open our eyes so we may see the truth, open our ears so we may hear Your Word, and open our hearts so that we may receive all the love we so deeply need from you.

Let us show love today to at least on other person. Give us patience with those who frustrate us. Give us understanding for those who don't meet our expectations. Above all, let us reflect Your Son, Jesus, in every encounter we have because we are all hurting, all imperfect, all looking for hope. In Jesus' name, amen."

I love knowing I am about to be blessed by the Holy Spirit when I open the Bible with a desire to be changed, don't you? Let me ask you something. Think about how many times you have said the phrase, "What's your problem?" Usually it's said in response to someone who got out of bed on the wrong side. My answer would be, "I haven't had my coffee or bible time yet, give me a minute."

What if we meant it? What if we said it with a real intention of helping, like "What's the problem you're having today? I'd like to help."

A key phrase of The Revolution is "We must aggressively, intentionally, and on purpose reach out to others daily." What does that mean to you?

There are so many people in need of help in this world, sometimes it is so hard to choose where to give our time or resources, that we end up not doing anything at all. Our workbook states there are an estimated 143 million orphans worldwide; The US alone has over 15,000 certified nursing homes, often understaffed and filled with lonely elderly persons; our prisons are overflowing with hurting people; every few seconds a child is abducted into the sex trade; most of the world's population is living on less than $730 a year; and since 1981 AIDS has killed more than 25 million people worldwide.

The early Christians were faced with a similar dilemma. Paul wanted the followers of Christ to be sincere in their motives and use wisdom in how they dealt with situations. He wrote to the church in Philippi: "And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ," Philippians 1:9-10 (New International Version).

The Message says it this way, "So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush" Philippians 1:9-10 (The Message)

God wants us to be thoughtful in our giving, but to give, to help, to do something more than offer our condolences. Perhaps you give to your church and allow your giving to help hurting people under your church leader's guidance. That's a very good place to start. As Joyce Meyers says, we need to give into where we are getting fed the Word of God.

But what about people in your neighborhood, or your city, that you come across in the course of your day? What if you saw a child without proper clothes and daily food. Would you do something now? Would you say a silent prayer and walk on? Would you even notice? Please turn with me to James 2:15-6. Does this verse change your decision, or reinforce it? _________________________

1 John 3:16-18 says, "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth."

Unfortunately, more than a few of us in this study are suffering from the effects of the economy. May be you are among the needy right now. I want to suggest that there is so much more of value in you, than simply money. Let's come up with some ideas together, alright?

Make a list of things you can give to a shelter or to a friend in need; a list of talents you can share with someone trying to build job skills; a list of tools or skills you can use to solve a problem in a neighbor's home, or in your church building; perhaps a charity for which you can make phone calls or write letters.

I've always had small children at home (my kids ages range from 22 to 5, currently) so I've tried to volunteer in ways I can either work from home or take my kids along. Some worthy organizations I've enjoyed being involved with are my local church,  MOPSHome Delivered Meals4H , and The Compassionate Friends.  Spark any ideas? Brainstorm some thoughts below:

 God says, "For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have (2 Corinthians 8:12). In other words, do what you can with an attitude of love, and that is more than enough.

I can give or use:_________________________________________

Sometimes we get blocked by feeling inadequate, like our contribution is just a drop in the bucket of need. In The Revolution, Joyce talks about the power of one. One person, Adam, made a very poor choice that brought all mankind into a fallen state of sin, pain, unhappiness and suffering. One man affected the whole of humanity. Well, I can't affect the whole of humanity, you might say. You're right. But you can affect one area: one problem.

Joyce points out that in the 1700's up to 50,000 Africans per year were captured and sold into English slavery. Like in the US at one time, and as is still practiced in parts of Africa and the modern world (can you believe that?!), slavery was seen as a financial necessity. One man, William Wilberforce, worked over the course of 14 years to continually introduce legislation to Parliament to end slavery. Despite government and social opposition, threats against his life, personal sickness, and repeated failures, he believed so strongly in the need for change that he did not give up until he succeeded. In 1807 Parliament abolished the slave trade in the British Empire! The only difference between William Wilberforce and any number of people who agreed with him in silence, was that every day he did something, no matter how small, towards his goal until he succeeded.

What I am suggesting, is that instead of focusing on all we can't do, focus on one thing we can do. One thing today, something else tomorrow, repeat all week long. The only person who is in charge of choosing your "thing" is you. This is not about competing with each other, getting our Pastor's approval, or trying to earn God's love with our good works. This is about deciding we can do one thing to ease one other person's pain in some way today, and doing it.

Homework: Pick a problem to solve or a cause from your list above and take one action. Out of the many worthy causes, pray and ask God to reveal where you are most needed and pay attention over the course of the day or week as to what comes up over and over, or what really tugs on your heart. You don't have to, and cannot, solve every problem. But you can solve one piece of one problem.

Write in the comment section and tell me, "What's your problem?"

Dear Father, thank you for quickening our hearts and giving us strength to take action when you give us the opportunity to see a need. Give us both compassionate natures, and wisdom to know when and how much, and in what way. Above all, remind us that it is you that knows the hearts of those to whom we give, and it is our job to help, trusting you to bless our giving no matter if the gift is used wisely or not by the recipient. After all, when we give to least of us, we are giving to You, Lord Jesus. (Matthew 25:40) Amen.

I'll meet you here tomorrow, love, Karen

Back to first day of Bible Study

Photo by Simon Howden, courtesy of

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