Tag Archives: help

The Good Samaritan

good samaritan

We all are familiar with Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan. We can learn so much from many different angles of the story. The man who was beaten up and left for dead on the side of the road between Jerusalem and Jericho must’ve thought no one would come to help him. He must’ve been surprised when someone eventually stopped to help and then found out that the person was a Samaritan—from the group of people who were his people’s enemies, more or less. Being brought to an inn to be cared for and the care paid for by the Samaritan must’ve been an even bigger surprise for the injured man. This was unexpected and unusual, to be sure. But this person and this place brought healing and wellness to the injured man. Have you ever been helped by someone you did not know when you were in distress? Have you ever been surprised by the source and site of help when it came? Give thanks to God for help from unexpected people and places.

The priest and the Levite who walked by the injured man by the other side of the road represent those of us who are busy with our lives and not willing to stop to help those we see who are in need. The priest and Levite are connected to jobs that are religious and related to God, so their turning away from the injured man is unexpected and unusual as well. The inaction of the priest and the Levite points us to our own inaction in caring for those in need. Even though we may appear to be religious and in touch with God, we can so often pass by those situations and those people who need our help. We may say we are too tired, our schedules are too tight or others could take care of the problem.

The Good Samaritan made the effort to stop and help the injured man. He was not afraid of any differences he had with the man or any animosity people may have felt toward him because of his heritage. He was not afraid to touch the injured man. He was not afraid to take extra time to take the injured man for healing and recovery and to offer extra money to aid the innkeeper in caring for the injured man. The Good Samaritan helps us to remember that we are to go the extra mile to care for those who come across our path and we are to give monetarily of what we have to bless the lives of those who are poor in spirit and in worldly goods.

Types of Encouragement

encouragementScott Christenson, another one of the keynote speakers at Best Practices, spoke about different ways in which we can encourage each other in the Church.

The first is cheer encourgement. We can let each other know, “You can do it!” We can tell people, “Great job!” and “Congratulations!” when we see our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ doing well in the work of the Lord.

The second is support encouragement. Things do not always go the way we expect them to, but we can be there to say “Hang in there” and “Do not give up.” God has got this and it is not all up to us. It is up to him to complete the mission he has planned.

The third is challenge encouragement. Sometimes people need a little push, a little nudge in the direction God wants them to go. We can help people to see the big picture and see that maybe it is time for them to do something new or take a risk that God has in mind for them. Point people to possibilities in ministry they may not have thought of before.

Think of ways you can be an encourager in these three ways this week and keep this verse in mind:

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

 

The Most Popular Bible Verse

top Bible verseAccording to YouVersion, one of the most popular Bible apps in the world, the Bible verse that was the most bookmarked, highlighted and shared over the course of 2018 in the U.S. and globally was Isaiah 41:10:

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

It is not hard to see why. It is chuck full of promises and assurances from God. Why should we not fear? Because God is with us. Why should we not be dismayed? Because he is our God and he can do anything and everything. What can our God do for us? He can strengthen you when you are weak. He can help you when you are in trouble. He had uphold you when you are down.

This is a good verse for us to commit to memory, to put on our bathroom mirror, to write on a Post-It on our desks. This is a verse that can get you through the day.

The fact that this verse was the most shared verse of the year over the internet and through smartphones warms my heart as well. It shows that people are using God’s Word to help and comfort and give hope through modern means to get the messages of our Lord out instantly.

Consider sending Isaiah 41:10 out to a friend you are thinking about who may be needing to hear these words of support right now. Become part of a positive popular trend.

 

Is the Lord’s Arm Too Short?

arm of GodThe Minute in the Word on Joy FM in St. Louis on Nov. 12, 2018, highlighted Number 11:23 when God reminded Moses:

Is the Lord’s arm too short?

You see, the Children of Israel were desperately in need of food, and Moses could not see how they could find enough food for them all. Moses could only see what was at arm’s length around him.

But the Lord’s arm extends far beyond our imagination.

God sent a great wind that drove quail to the camp to feed the people for a month.

God’s arm is never too short to help us. He can reach out as far as he needs to in order to bring us help. Why? Because as we all know, on this Valentine’s Day, he loves us dearly.

Let us never forget that.

 

 

 

Cope With Hope

cope with hopeWhen I was worshiping at Praise and Worship Lutheran Church in Branson, MO, this past fall, Pastor Mark Hunsaker prayed that we would “cope with hope.” I liked that turn of phrase and it made me realize what a wonderful coping mechanism we have in the hope that we have in our crucified and risen Lord. No matter how bad things get in life, we have hope that Christ has conquered sin, trouble and all our frustrations. We have hope that this trial too (no matter how awful) will pass and we will one day be in paradise with our Lord, where there will be no more tears or pain or suffering.

St. Paul makes it clear: I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us (Romans 8:18).

There is truly light at the end of the tunnel, as St. Peter tells us, “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast” (1 Peter 5:10).

A few things jump out for me in that verse.

• A little while. Though the suffering may seem endless to us now, this really will in the long run be a short period of time of hardship before the glorious joy to come.

• Restore you and make you strong. When the suffering ends, you will not be a shell of a person or a weak shadow of yourself. You will be renewed, re-energized and strong in the Lord. You will be fully you!

• Firm and steadfast. That is how we shall be and what we should be along the way: confident and sure in our trust in Christ to carry us through. No doubts, no questions, no confusion. Just faith in his power and grace to get us to the other side.

That is how we can cope with hope this week.

 

The Great Sustainer

sustainerSurely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me. —Psalm 54:4

Psalm 54:4 is good for anyone going through trying times. It gives hope when we feel helpless. I like the use of the word surely here. There is a confidence and a certainty about it. God WILL BE my help. There is no doubt about it.

I also like the fact that this verse does not stop with the help. It assures us of the Lord sustaining us. There is help for the long haul, not just for now. There is a future plan that God has in place to keep us going in our faith and in our life with him. There is no end to the care that our Lord provides for us. Even unto eternity, he sustains us by taking us to heaven with him when we die.

His help and sustaining are ever-present and ever-giving. We are never in this life alone with our Great Sustainer beside us.

Gospel Goodbyes

gospel goodbyesI must admit that I am not very good at goodbyes. After spending time with my family or friends at a holiday event or summer vacation far from home, it is hard for me to bid farewell to these people I love so much.

Pastor Matt Chandler of The Village Church in Texas talks about the difficulty of leaving colleagues at a church he ministered at to begin work at another parish. What has helped him get through it, he says, is remembering the what he calls the “gospel goodbyes” that happened in the Book of Acts {“Multiplied + Divided,” Christianity Today, December 2017, 49).

The way that Paul framed his goodbyes to the church members he loved so much was to connect them to the good news of the gospel, that we will be together in the end in heaven with our Lord, who died and was raised that we might have eternal life with him. So it is never “We will never see you again,” but “See you next time, either here on earth or in heaven.”

Consider this “gospel goodbye”:

Judas (called Barsabbas) and Silas, who themselves were prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the believers (in Antioch). After spending some time there, they were sent off by the believers with the blessing of peace to return to those who had sent them.  —Acts 15:32-33

This gospel goodbye was characterized by a blessing of peace. The people of Antioch knew that Barsabbas and Silas had to move on from them to spread the word about Jesus. Barsabbas and Silas’ goodbye was made with encouraging words to those in Antioch to continue the faith there.

What a great example for us to follow to incorporate blessing, peace and encouragement in our goodbyes in the name of the Lord.

Now take a look at this “gospel goodbye”:

When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers and sisters encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. When he arrived, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. —Acts 18;27

Those Apollos was saying goodbye to helped him to get settled in his new place and made sure he would be welcome there. They did not stop him from carrying out his calling by asking him to stay with them. They made sure to support him in his new venture.

I think it is good for us in our own gospel goodbyes to realize that God’s plan for our loved ones is often beyond us and that our loved ones are doing their best work in the Lord in places that are not near us, but that that does not diminish our bond with them.

One of the most compelling goodbyes is this one between Paul and the elders of Ephesus as he leaves for his mission to Jerusalem:

When Paul had finished speaking, he knelt down with all of them and prayed.They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him. What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again. Then they accompanied him to the ship. —Acts 20:36-38

You can feel the pain, but you can sense the overarching love among them. I like that the goodbye is accompanied with prayer. It is prayer that will continue to bind them together. And though they will not see Paul’s face again on this earth. They have the faith that they will see him again in the courts above, singing praises to the Lamb, who will wipe every tear of parting sorrow from their eyes.

I am reminded that even the word “goodbye” is a shortened version of “God be with you.” So each parting we experience in the end is a reminder that God is with us wherever we may be and he always will. Thanks be to God.

 

 

Psalms for Every Time

PsalmsThe Psalms are called the Church’s songbook, which is it. So it is a book we need to go to often for comfort, help and strength at many times in our lives. Here are some Psalm suggestions for reflecting on at specific instances:

When feeling insignificant: Psalm 8

When lonely: Psalm 23

When seeking God’s light: Psalm 36:7-9

When thanking God: Psalm 30:1-5, 11-12

When sick or suffering: Psalm 103:1-5

When feeling attacked: Psalm 70

When hungering for assurance: Psalm 118:1-9

When unsure about where to look for help: Psalm 121

When wishing to praise God; Psalm 150

Let the Psalms be your go-to resource in every circumstance you encounter.

Pillows

pillowIn the middle of the growing contentious issue regarding refugees in America, I came across a moment of brightness in the conversation. I found it in the story of Pastor Paul Stumme-Diers, of Bethany Lutheran Church in Bainbridge Island, Washington, who had an idea:

“I recognized pillows as a symbol of hospitality. Who invites a guest without offering a pillow? And I found a great deal on pillows at a local retailer. What a fitting way to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and the ministry of Jesus, who associated with the outsiders, Samaritans and lepers, and who himself was a refugee as an infant” (Pritchett, Rachel, “Providing Comfort,” Living Lutheran magazine, November 2017, p. 39).

The church blessed 500 pillows in their sanctuary by tossing them into the air before delivering them to Lutheran Community Services (LCS) Northwest, which provides services to refugees.

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Beyond the Walls

serving othersPresiding bishop of the ELCA Elizabeth E. Eaton relates this story:

The wood frame structure of St. Mary’s Lutheran Church was a “place of worship and hope during the siege of Leningrad during WWII. But people were freezing and starving to death. There was no wood for heating or cooking. So the Lutherans looked at their beloved church and then looked at the suffering around them. Piece by piece they dismantled their building and gave it away for the life of the community” (Living Lutheran, July 2017, p. 50).

Giving away what is most precious to us in the Church to serve others is what being the Church in action is all about. We should never cling so tightly to our church building or our own history as a church body that we fail to meet the pressing needs of those around us.

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