community, help, serving, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Helping: Sharing God’s Love Through Actions and Generosity

God calls all of us to provide helping hands whether it be in our schools, churches, or neighborhoods. We must all take part in providing for the needs of those around us.



A couple of weeks ago, two members of my church family, my community, helped me in a time of need. I previously wrote all about how 3 trees made their way on top of my house during a snow storm.

One person in my community of people graciously got them off my roof. And this week, 2 more dear friends helped me get them chopped up and cleared away. They were living, breathing examples of helping our siblings in Christ when they need it.God calls us to provide helping hands in our spheres of influence. We must all take part in providing for the needs of those around us. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #community #love #help #serve #encouragement

Acting in Freedom

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.

Galatians 5:13, NLT

We have freedom from sin through Christ’s death and resurrection. We are called to use that freedom to serve one another. That doesn’t mean when it is convenient or easy, it means helping where there is a need.

We must be self-sacrificing like our Savior. He surrendered Himself for us. We cannot satisfy ourselves and be susceptible to our sinful nature, but use our time, freedom, and resources to love each other.

Share What You Have

Don’t forget to do good and to share what you have because God is pleased with these kinds of sacrifices.

Hebrews 13:16, CEB

This verse does not say to share when you are in a time of abundance. It did not say to only share certain things. It clearly states to share what you have. Whatever that may be.

Some people only have time and energy. It doesn’t matter how much or how little you have, we have been implored to share. The act of helping is what is important. And why? Because it pleases God.

We are not just to share during times of abundance or only certain things. God's word tells us to share what we have. It doesn't matter how much or how little, the act of helping is what is important because it pleases God. Click To Tweet

Faith Without Action

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

James 2:14-17, NIV

When we claim to have faith, our faith must be backed by our actions. If we ignore the needs of those around us and refuse to offer help, we are not acting in acceptance of our Savior. Scripture says that when our actions don’t support our faith, then our faith is dead (James 2).

It is not enough to wish someone well, tell them that you are thinking of them, or even that you are praying for them. We do need to pray for each other, of course. But if we have the means to help someone and turn our back, only providing words of comfort, our actions are not reflecting what we believe.

Jesus did not simply wish us well when He came to Earth. He saw our need and He acted taking our place on the cross and dying for us. He acted in obedience to the Father. We have to follow His example.

Abide in Love

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?

1 John 3:17, ESV

If we want to abide in God’s love, we need to help each other in times of need. This proves God’s love and sets an example for those who witness our actions. Let’s take time out of our schedules to bring a meal, help with yard work, donate unwanted items… Let’s abide in love.

How can you lend a helping hand today?

God calls us to provide helping hands in our spheres of influence. We must all take part in providing for the needs of those around us. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #community #help #serve # love #encouragement

abide, obedience, peace, striving, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Posture: The Difference Between Striving and Obedience

Outwardly, striving and obedience may look exactly the same. It is the posture of our hearts that determine if we are acting with confidence. 



The week was spent running errands, making phone calls, meeting with other people, processing what was gained from the meetings, making stuff, prepping meals, laundry, loving on children, correcting children, loving on children more. Tiring? Yes. Peaceful? Actually, yes.

The following week followed the same pattern: On the go, checking stuff off the list. But it felt different. Everywhere I turned I seemed to be hitting a dead end. Nothing was going smoothly. Instead of tired and peaceful, I was exhausted and frantic. Outwardly, my actions looked exactly the same. Inwardly, I was drowning.

Outwardly, striving and obedience may look exactly the same. It is the posture of our hearts that determine if we are acting with confidence. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

Striving

I can drive myself bonkers and wear myself out striving to do good things, giving things, ministry things. But if it is not what God wants me to do, or at the time He wants me to act, then it is the wrong thing and my work will not be fruitful. If I am striving to make things happen in my time and in my way, then I have made my ministry about myself.

Striving leaves us looking for the next win, the next pat on the back, the next recognition. More than likely, we are looking to fill a void within ourselves, rather than serving out of an abundance.

Striving leaves us looking for the next win, the next pat on the back, the next recognition. More than likely, we are looking to fill a void within ourselves, rather than serving out of an abundance. Click To Tweet

Obedience

Rather than striving, we are to be obedient. Obedience may not bring any recognition from people. It will, however, bring us closer to our Lord. Only His love and affirmation will sustain us. Praise received from people runs empty very quickly. Trust me, as a self-proclaimed “Approval Junkie,” I know.

Obedience doesn’t mean everything is suddenly simple. God still calls us to move forward. But our spirits are calm because the source of our energy is coming from Him. We are not mustering the energy from within ourselves.

Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.

John 14:21, NLT

Posture

On the outside, striving and obedience can look very much alike. The difference lies within the posture of our heart. If we give, and do, out of our own will-power then we are going to end up depleted, exhausted, and burnt out. But, serving from His power and out of abundance leaves us fulfilled and at peace.

The only way to serve in this manner is to abide in His love. He is the source of our love to others. He is where our focus has to remain. And He is who brings us fulfillment and peace.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.

John 15:4, ESV

Are you striving, or obeying? It is a daily acknowledgment we each must recognize.

Outwardly, striving and obedience may look exactly the same. It is the posture of our hearts that determine if we are acting with confidence. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

shaping, pruning, attack, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian mentoring, spiritual growth, women of faith

Shaping: Rest in the God Who Prunes the Ones He Loves

Resting in Jesus feels wild; almost unsafe, especially when we feel like things are being stripped away. But relinquishing control to the One who lovingly prunes us to produce even more growth is the only true safety we will ever know.



The dream…

It was 8 to 10 years in the future. I was visiting my daughters who had moved back to our hometown. They shared a quaint little house in Old Louisville. The yard boasted a beautiful flower garden, ornate grape vines and a handful of dogwood and pear trees. When I arrived, we took a trip to pick up the spoils of their CSA shares, then we returned to their home and started fixing dinner. I looked outside at the sunset—a wild array of slate and cerulean blues hovering over a peachy inferno. I mused aloud how I had missed Kentucky sunsets.

While I looked on, white lightning spilt the sky, striking the heart of the sunset. Void of rain, the lightning continued to make contact with the earth, igniting a blaze that headed straight for the house. I told the girls we had to evacuate; they hurried to grab a few belongings. But as I glanced back out the window, the roaring wildfire had not only gone around the house, but the yard as well. The trees, the grass, the flowers in their garden…nothing was singed.

Back to reality…

When I awoke I played back the dream in my mind. Then a familiar verse from childhood sprung from memory:

A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not approach you.

Psalm 91:7, NASB

What a sweet assurance! I immediately began praising God for His guarantee to guard and guide His children. Even more, I can rejoice and wholly trust in the One who raises the dead to protect and secure the children God has entrusted to me while here on earth.

Piecing together…

Ironically, the morning after my dream the fire alarm tripped near the close of our church service. There was no fire, thankfully, and everyone evacuated the building safely. The Lord even held the rain that had been relentless for the previous 24 hours. As we stood waiting for the fire squad to clear the building, someone mentioned the cause being the enemy trying to mess things up. I thought, perhaps—but after seeing what God has done in my daughter Anna’s life, I am not as quick to witness negativity or even tragedy and say Oh; that’s the devil. Spiritual warfare? Maybe, but so much more I view things through the lens of God pruning to bear even more fruit as opposed to the devil dolling out body blocks.

God is always working…

Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

John 15:2, ESV

Relinquishing control to the One who is lovingly pruning and shaping us to produce even more growth is the only true safety we will ever know. | Spiritual Growth | Christian Mentoring | Women of Faith | Scripture Study

Confession…

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard and read John 15:2. But it wasn’t until I wrote it out last week that I caught the wording. I have been reading it incorrectly for years! My brain deceived me. You see, I thought it said: every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that does not bear fruit He prunes. It sounded repetitive, but hey, maybe Jesus just wanted to drive it home. However, I added a “not” in my brain. The second part of that verse says: “and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” Pruning is not punishment. Its purpose is to bring about even more blessing, more glory, greater victory.

Let’s go back to the supposition that the devil is lurking around every corner to ambush us. The bible clearly says to be on the alert.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8, ESV

The devil is always looking for someone to trap and deceive for all eternity. And if he’s lost the eternal battle, at the very least he wants to obliterate our faith in God and render us useless for the kingdom. The devil seeks to shake us up to the point of forsaking our reliance on Christ. However, Satan has no power over followers of Jesus Christ. And Romans tells us to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.

We grant authority to whomever we trust. The devil has no authority over any Christian, except the authority we grant him by believing him.

John Bloom

The devil seeks to shake us up to the point of forsaking our reliance on Christ. However, Satan has no power over followers of Jesus Christ. Click To Tweet

Abiding in the Vine…

I have about two dozen house plants. They all have names and I may or may not talk to them. (Okay; I do.) My first encounter with pruning came about a few years ago. My friend Katy gifted me a beautiful succulent with bright yellow flowers one Sunday morning. Months later, after all the blooms had withered, the plant (whom I’d named after it’s giver) failed to thrive. I tried giving her more water, then less water, but her growth was halted and she began to look feeble. After researching I found the answer. Cut the plant down to its base, set it in a dark room and leave it alone for a month with no water. WHAT?! That sounded wildly barbaric! But what choice did I have? She was dying anyway. So, I followed the instructions and left her cut down and dry in the dark for 30 days.

When I went to retrieve Katy on the 31st day I was surprised and delighted to find vibrant green leaves shooting up! To this day she is double in size and still thriving. Now, when I read John 15, I am reminded of my sweet little plant and how we as the branches are completely dependent on the true Vine. For that purpose, we are invited to remain joined to Jesus. And as we are pruned and receive nourishment from Him, we grow stronger and more vibrant and God is glorified.

pruning, shaping, spiritual insight

Wild Vines…

I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.

John 15:5-8, MSG

The next time something wild happens, I will look to see how God is working through the madness. And I pray I remember He is ever seeking to bring about true joy in children and full glory to Himself.

Relinquishing control to the One who is lovingly pruning and shaping us to produce even more growth is the only true safety we will ever know. | Spiritual Growth | Christian Mentoring | Women of Faith | Scripture Study

Annie Spratt