They Are Closer Than You Think

James 2:8-9

If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well:

Bruce, my neighbor, sat in his wheel chair.  He had just come home from the rehab center.  Due to an aggravated case of sugar diabetes his leg had been amputated at the knee.  That was just part of his problem.  While in rehab his wife, Nancy, who seemed to be a picture of health had a heart attack.  She was rushed to the hospital.  Shortly thereafter she died.  Bruce had just come home to an empty house.

As we talked about his trouble we cried together.  Placing my hand on his shoulder I said, “Bruce, can I pray with you.”  Receiving his assent, I poured out my heart to God asking for God’s comfort and provision for my neighbor Bruce.

Is this something that is out of the ordinary for a Christian?  It should not be.  Others should be able to tell that we are Christ followers because of our love for one another, but they also should be able to tell that we are Christ followers because of our compassionate love for them.

Our mission field is normally within walking distance.  Our mission field is often the next person we meet.  To fulfill the royal law, Christ’s love must exude from our life.  It is not something we only take to church.  It is an expression of who we are in Christ.

By Dr. Gayle Woods

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Fasting that Pleases God

Isaiah 58:6-11

An everlasting impression was pressed into my memory as a child.  In the days of my childhood we had “hobos” who were at times seen in various parts of my hometown.   It was rumored that if they got help from a resident, the common practice was to mark the property with an “X.”  Evidently we had a big “X” somewhere in our front yard.

My godly mother was not one to turn away from what she considered to be a genuine need.  She also loved to cook.  Back then, the homesless made house calls.  When a hobo came to our home asking for money for food she would tell him to sit down on the porch while she prepared a plate of food.  She did not settle for a sandwich and chips.  Neither did she warm up leftovers.  She cooked a full-fledged hot meal and served it to the hobo on our good plates.  I cannot help but think that God smiled and nodded His “head” in approval.

Isaiah is not just talking about helping the needy in our scripture reading.  After discussing fasting that comes from the wrong motive in vss. 1-5, he turns to describe the type of fasting that pleases God.  Interestingly enough, fasting is more than going without food.  Properly practiced, it means to adopt a lifestyle in which self-satisfaction and greed are spurned while being replaced with a compassion for the poor and needy.  This pleases God and leads to His blessing.  This, my mother seemed to understand.

By Dr. Gayle Woods

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We Are One

Romans 12:1-5

Linus sat on the floor watching his favorite channel on TV.  His concentration was interrupted when he heard Lucy’s demanding voice.  “Change the channel!”  Startled and somewhat upset he asked timorously, “What makes you think you can come in here and just take over?”  Lucy, looking belligerently down at him curled her hand into a fist and said, “These five fingers.  By themselves they are nothing but when I curl them together like this they become one single unit.  They form a weapon that is terrible to behold.”  “Which channel do you want?” squeaked Linus.  As she settled to the floor to watch her program Linus looked at his fingers and said, “Why can’t you guys get organized like that?”  (Charles Schlutz, Peanuts)

Charles Schlutz shared a story that humorously carries another message he probably did not intend to send.  To be organized does not necessarily suggest unity.  However, when individuals are of one mind and one purpose they can be bound together in an organized body that embodies its own collective strength.  Henry Ford once said something which carries a meaning worth considering in this context.  “Coming together is a beginning: keeping together is progress: working together is success.”  This whole concept is repeatedly seen in the New Testament.   God’s unified people are considered to be One Flock, we are gathered together—John 10. 16;  One Family, we dwell together—Ps. 133. 1; One Body, we are joined together—Eph. 4. 16; One Temple, we are framed together—Eph. 2. 21; One Household, we are built together—­Eph. 2. 19, 20;  One Kingdom, we are to strive together—Phil. 1.27; and One Hierarchy, we are raised up together­—Eph. 2. 6.

By Dr. Gayle Woods

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