Today is International Widows’ Day, established by the UN as a day dedicated to taking action against the injustices committed against widows worldwide. But it’s not just a day to have a meal with the widows you know or to make a donation to a cause you support. It’s a day to commit to taking care of widows and to changing the opportunities they have.

In many countries, widows are not treated fairly or kindly because of their status. While this is not the case for most widows in the United States, we should still be supporting the widows in our lives, and we can strive to make things better for widows who are mistreated, as we know God has called us to do.

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27).

What does this look like?

You probably know a few widowed women, either personally or from your church. Start there. On International Widows’ Day, make a plan to support these women—not just for one day. Make sure they are being taken care of and do what you can to assist them spiritually, emotionally, and physically. You could do a Bible study together, volunteer together, or even provide meals for them. A lot of widows also need help with projects around their home because they might not have the time, money, skills, or resources to do it on their own. Just having an extra set of hands can be very helpful, so ask what is needed and do what you can.

There are also several ways you can get involved with programs to support widows worldwide. Here are a few great organizations:

“We are dedicated to providing support to grief-stricken young families in their time of deepest need. When a parent dies the financial burden can be huge. The LLF awards monetary grants to meet families’ emotional and financial short-term needs.”

“The Global Fund for Widows is a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering widows and female heads of households to overcome poverty through skills-based training, job creation, and micro-finance.” 

“Modern Widows Club is committed to being advocates to give widows a voice, enable and empower them to move forward and become vital members of society once again able to thrive.”

“GriefShare is a friendly, caring group of people who will walk alongside you through one of life’s most difficult experiences. You don’t have to go through the grieving process alone.”

Jesus’ Economy doesn’t have a program set up directly for widows, but we do have a program to empower women in Bihar, India. Through this program, several women will be trained to maintain their own businesses and therefore be able to provide for their families. The women in this program come from a variety of family backgrounds—some married, some single, and some widowed—but because of their businesses they will have a way to support themselves. If any of these women were to become widowed, they would have the resources they need to feed themselves and their families.

On International Widows’ Day, we should think about how we can support women around the world, whether they’re in our neighborhood or in a developing country. Take this day to be there for your friends who are widows, and think about how you can contribute to the welfare of widows worldwide not just today, but every day.

Planet Earth is always changing, and that is a part of life. But some of the changes, such as climate change and diminishing resources like forests and fresh water, are hurting us and our witness to others. It’s easy to get caught up in the cycles of consumerism and forget about the ways our lifestyle impacts everything God made. But when we forget to take care of creation, we are disobeying God’s commands from Genesis.

“And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’… And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day” (Genesis 1:28, 31).

God’s first command to mankind was to be fruitful, multiply, and to take care of the Earth he made, which was very good. He made the Earth for us to live and grow in, and we have to be good stewards of it so that we can continue to do these things. The Earth is our home right now, and we should cherish it.

Creation Tells Us Who God Is

The Earth is not just good for us because it’s our current home, it’s good because it reveals God’s presence to believers and unbelievers alike. We know that “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1).

What we see in nature is a revelation of God’s creative power and glory, and is also a revelation of the gospel. When we enjoy the Earth we can learn about who God is and what he is like. Enjoying the Earth can help believers draw nearer in relationship with God, and it can help unbelievers find somewhere to start. Paul talks about the witness nature gives, and how God’s creation exposes his eternal power. He writes,

“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” (Romans 1:19-20).

As Job declares to his friends,

“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind” (Job 12:7-10).

If nature is so incredible that it glorifies God and draws people nearer to him, shouldn’t we protect it?

How Christians Should Take Care of the Earth

The Earth is suffering because of our careless attitudes toward resources. We should be taking care of what we have because it was left in our care and it can help us as we bring the gospel to the ends of the earth.

Here are a few ways we can be good stewards of creation:

1. Shop Responsibly

Strive to buy products that are produced ethically, fairly traded, and have minimal environmental impact. Try looking into businesses, like Jesus’ Economy, that are honest about the materials they use and how they use them.

2. Reduce Waste

Did you know that most plastic is produced only to be thrown away, and because of this, a truckload of plastic is dumped into the ocean every minute? And this doesn’t account for what is thrown into landfills or even sent elsewhere to be recycled. Regardless, we are using too much plastic. Consider cutting out single-use plastics from your life and recycle all you can. Buy a few reusable bags for groceries and pack your lunch in glassware instead of plastic wrap. Thrift shopping is also a great way to reduce waste.

3. Enjoy Creation

This one is simple. Get outside and look at what God made for us and for him. Take a break from work, technology, and those little life stresses and go rest in creation. It will be refreshing and it can be a wonderful retreat to grow closer to God.

God created the world for us to live in and care for, and sometimes we get wrapped up in the living part and forget the caring part. But I encourage you to care for creation in all the ways you can, and see how you get to know God better as you do.

 

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A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to walk a Stations of the Cross path for the first time at a local abbey. Stations of the Cross is a path made up of a series of images depicting the story of the day of Jesus’ crucifixion. Each station has an image and an accompanying prayer to read as you contemplate what Jesus experienced in his last moments before death. Many Christians walk through the stations during Lent because they focus on the suffering and sacrifice of the Lord leading to the celebration of the Resurrection.

When I visited the stations, I hadn’t known much about them and I didn’t know what to expect. Some of my reflections were surprising, others humbling, but the whole experience left my spirit quieted by Jesus and what he did for us. Here are a few of the reflections I made on my journey.

1. Jesus Became Weak for Us

Sometimes it’s difficult to picture how Jesus suffered. But as I stood at the fifth station and saw the picture of Simon helping Jesus carry the cross, I was reminded of the gruesome nature of Jesus’ death because of his humanity. Jesus was tired. He was exhausted. He was dirty. He had a human body, and that body was quitting on him. At some point, he nearly gave up—he needed help to carry his own cross.

Before his death, he was thirsty, and he had to drink wine from a sponge on a stick. We don’t always think about it, but Jesus got thirsty. And he got hungry, too. When Jesus came to earth he became like us—small and weak.

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” (Philippians 2:5-7, ESV)

2. God Isn’t Surprised

Many of the images made my stomach clench because of the horror of how Jesus died. Then I thought about the prophecies from hundreds of years before. Jesus was not surprised by how he was betrayed or how he was mocked or how it was finally finished. The blood and dirt did not shock him. God the Father was not surprised, either, as he turned away.

Everything that happened those last days from Gethsemane to Golgotha was known by God. He knew that Jesus would suffer, and that the suffering would ultimately lead to salvation.

Knowing it was planned doesn’t make the scene any less brutal. But it does remind us that God’s hand is in everything—even the things that make us cringe.

“For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.” (Isaiah 46:9b-10, ESV)

3. Jesus’ Death Was Sad, but also Peaceful

At the last station, I was very emotional because I could imagine the feeling of loss among the disciples. Their friend had just died and they were left alone.

I bet they felt abandoned. I bet they knew it would all be worth it, but I bet they were filled with sorrow. Even knowing they would see him again would not be enough to fully ease the pain of loss. But after Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension to heaven, God sent the Spirit to guide us. We are not left alone, and that truth brings us peace.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27, ESV)

These are words of peace Jesus leaves with his disciples before his journey to the cross.

4. We Have a Place in the Resurrection Story

Each station’s image was covered in a glass case, and as I stood at each one, I often found my eyes wandering to the reflection of my own face in the glass. I tried to avert my focus, to turn my eyes away from myself and onto Jesus.

But as I stood there, my face reflected at the feet of Jesus as he hung on the cross, I was struck with the reminder that this story is for us, too. Just as Jesus died with the full weight of our sin on the cross, so we “[die] to sin” daily so that we can be “alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:11, ESV)

Jesus died because all of us are sinful and we can’t amend that on our own. Jesus died because he has such deep love for us and he truly wants to spend eternity with us.

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.” (1 Peter 3:18, ESV)

Jesus’ death shocks us. It humbles us and baffles us. It changes us. It brings us to our knees and reminds us of the greatness of God. We can live because Jesus died.  What a wonderful paradox.

In the middle of Lenten season, I encourage you to reflect on the journey Jesus took so that we might have life because of death.

 

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As we remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. today, I am reminded of his statement:

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Here's its original context, its origins, and what Dr. King would say to us today.

At the core of this statement, you can hear the prophetic voice. Let us remember that Dr. King also had another title—Reverend. He was a preacher.

In King's time, as in ours, many people looked at the injustices and simply ignored them or demeaned them. But for a person living in a country that treats them unjustly, these issues are not something that can be ignored. It’s only convenient to ignore injustices until those same injustices inconvenience you. King regularly pointed this out and mobilized people for action.

The Context of Dr. King's Words & Implications

Dr. King said the famous, "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere" in his work from Birmingham Jail, where he was imprisoned for advocating for equal rights of African Americans.

The context should remind us that this phrase cannot be a platitude; it must be lived. It means so much because of who said it and from the context in which it was said.

And it is injustice that we see today—all over our planet. The racial and economic inequality King was fighting against still exists today. So let us not just remember, but act. We have made progress but we must keep moving forward.

Near the end of his life, King was working to bring equality by creating jobs. And yet, so much of the world still lacks jobs, because we haven’t completed the task. This is injustice.

We look around the world and we also see those who are oppressed—who lack spiritual and religious freedom, who lack knowledge of Jesus. This too is an injustice.

We look around our own country today and we still see racism. And this isn't only within our nation (against one another), but it also has to do with the worldview many people hold. Many people view those from other places as outsiders (or less than Americans). There is racism and xenophobia on the global stage. This is injustice.

We must stand up, lift up, and rise up—to fight these injustices, boldly proclaiming that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

The Statement's Origins: The Prophets Agree 

The prophets resonate with Dr. King’s words, with lines like:

“Wash! Make yourselves clean! Remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes! Cease to do evil! Learn to do good! Seek justice! Rescue the oppressed! Defend the orphan! Plead for the widow!” (Isaiah 1:16 LEB).

“Thus says Yahweh, ‘Act with justice and righteousness, and deliver the one who has been seized from the hand of the oppressor. And you must not oppress or treat violently the immigrant, the orphan, and the widow. And you must not shed innocent blood in this place’” (Jeremiah 22:3 LEB).

“Remove from me the noise of your songs, and I do not want to hear the melody of your harps! But let justice roll on like the water, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:23–24 LEB).

The Bible’s cry is justice, mercy, and love. There is no other way that aligns with God’s desire.

Dr. King Would Remind Us to Fight Against Fear

Much of our world's problems come out of fear. We fear acting against injustice, because of the possible ramifications. We fear those we do not understand. And fear causes us to do terrible things and to not take action when we should. We must fight fear.

Fear cannot dominate our worldview. If any of us are to call ourselves Christians, we must believe in justice for all. We must love without bounds. We must lead out of mercy. This is the Christian cry. Jesus once said:

“ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:37–40 LEB).

Dr. King Would Remind Us to Live Love

Love means placing others before ourselves—to love God is to love others. The book of James puts it this way:

“If anyone thinks he is religious, although he does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained by the world” (James 1:26–27 LEB).

Love is only truly practiced by those who can manage their own words—we must all work at this. Love also requires us to prioritize the needs of the widow, the orphan, the refugee, and the outsider. We must believe that is what is good for the entire world is also good for us, because it is.

But love does not mean simply loving those who are hurting—although that is certainly a major part of it. Jesus also once remarked:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘Hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven, because he causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust” (Matthew 5:43–44 LEB).

There is no us and them; we’re all simply humanity. God does not look on the world and smile upon one country over another. He loves the entire world equally. And we must do the same.

Love those you don’t understand. Love those on the other side of the aisle. Love those who protest. Love those who protest against you. Love in a way that forces you to self-examine. Love in a way that moves you out isolation and insulation. Love in a way that demands justice. Love with mercy. Simply put, truly love.

 

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This long-form article is part of our weekly series, “Living for Jesus.” It's adapted in part from my previous article by the same title and my article "4 Ways Justice Is Today's Christian Cry."

Continuing with our "Living for Jesus This Christmas" series, here is a story of the importance of gratitude and faith this holiday season. 

At this time of year, the stress levels for many are almost too much to bear. We struggle through the ups and downs of the season, as we navigate family, our budget, and our church life. It’s all too easy to become frustrated and angry, and then to lose sight of our priorities. The key to changing all this: thankfulness -- for Christ, salvation, and what we have been given.

During Christmas season, I often find myself up awake at night, wondering about all that is and all that could be. As I stare at the ceiling, I struggle with the thought that maybe I’m not living up to what God intends for me to be. And indeed, there are always areas I can improve, but much of this self-doubt is probably rooted in ungratefulness.

My wife Kalene's recent solution to some of these difficulties was to share with me a lovely song from the 1954 film, White Christmas:

“When I'm worried and I can't sleep / I count my blessings instead of sheep / And I fall asleep / Counting my blessings / When my bankroll is getting small / I think of when I had none at all / And I fall asleep / Counting my blessings / If you're worried and you can't sleep / Just count your blessings instead of sheep / And you'll fall asleep / Counting your blessings”

And isn’t this the truth? We all have the blessing of Jesus, who saves, as well as many other blessings. If only that were our focus instead!

Paul the Apostle understood this. Repeatedly, he opens his letters with words of thankfulness. For example, even when addressing the Corinthian church, who he is struggling to maintain a relationship with, he says:

“Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in all affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, thus through Christ our comfort overflows also” (2 Cor 1:3–5).

Here is Paul, in the midst of a struggle with the Corinthian church, and with some struggles of his own, showing a spirit of thankfulness. By counting his blessings, he finds a way to have joy even when things are hard.

When we really get down to it, there’s an obvious point that we all know, but that maybe we should take a second to remind ourselves of: This season is about Jesus, or at least it’s supposed to be. Breathe that in. Tell yourself that everyday. Remember what Jesus did for us, and be thankful for it. It will change everything.

And then, take a moment to remind yourself how the one who gave it all calls us to give it all for the betterment of our world.

When we give, our thought patterns change -- and our general attitude about life changes. We find ourselves realizing what God can do through our lives and then we find ourselves grateful for it.

Jesus can do so much through your life, and wants to do so much. Give over more of your life to him this year. Let him work through you in this season, to show love to others with a generous and grateful spirit. Work with Christ to transform lives and our world.

This article was previously published under the title, "Reclaim a Spirit of Gratitude this Christmas Season."

Continuing with our "Living for Jesus This Christmas" series, we have another post filled with hope for you this holiday season. 

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. For some this means absolute joy, for others it’s a more difficult time of year. I understand both sentiments—as I have had both throughout the years.

No matter where you are this time of year, or how you feel about it, I have a hope-filled message for you.

Right from Jesus’ birth, we see how God likes to surprise. He doesn’t choose the richest woman in the land to give birth to Jesus, but instead one of the impoverished. The angel Gabriel says to Mary:

“Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you. … Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in the womb and will give birth to a son, and you will call his name Jesus. This one will be great, and he will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. And he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end. … The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore also the one to be born will be called holy, the Son of God” (Luke 1:28–38 LEB).

Mary’s ultimate reply, after learning that she, a virgin, will conceive miraculously: “Behold, the Lord’s female slave! May it happen to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38 LEB).

Mary speaks truth. These are words each of us need to hear today: May we act according to God’s will, so attached to him that it resembles a slave following his or her master. May God’s will happen according to his word.

But these are not just contemplative words—they are words of gratitude and joy. Although Mary may be feeling perplexed, she is in wonderment. She sees that great and wonderful things are coming (Luke 1:29, 34). And even when we are perplexed, we should look to God in wonderment too—knowing that he will do great and mighty things.

Christmas is meant to remind us of the great and wonderful things coming our way. We are meant to celebrate the occasion with pure joy. We should contemplate both what God did by becoming flesh—forever marrying humanity to himself—but also how he chose to become flesh.

God could have chosen a rich young woman or a queen. He could have chosen to be born into wealth and power. But that’s not what God chose. God chose a humble and honorable woman. He chose someone from poverty, who had no power at all.

And in this act, and so many others in Jesus’ life, we see that this is really what the Christian journey is about: a walk with God, in humility, grace, and love.

Christmas reminds us of all this. But Christmas also reminds us of Mary’s words about Jesus:

“My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced greatly in God my Savior, because he has looked upon the humble state of his female slave, for behold, from now on all generations will consider me blessed, because the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for generation after generation to those who fear him. He has done a mighty deed with his arm; he has dispersed the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones, and has exalted the lowly. He has filled those who are hungry with good things, and those who are rich he has sent away empty-handed. He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy, just as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever” (Luke 1:46–56 LEB).

This is what God does. This is who God is. This is what God is about.

May you be filled with joy today. May the power of the living Christ transform you and work through you. May you realize who God really is, and act according to his ways—lifting up the lowly and feeding the hungry.

This article was previously published under the title, "A Song of Gratitude for Christmas Day: Joy No Matter What."

At this time of year, it can seem like a lot is asked of you. While much of the Christmas season in the U.S. is rooted in consumerism, there are some tangible (and profound) reasons why Christians give. By taking hold of these truths, we can honor God through our donating and gift giving.

At the start of our "Living for Jesus This Christmas" series, here are four reasons why Christians give.

1. God Began Everything by Giving of Himself

Creation itself testifies to the giving Spirit of God. In the beginning, God creates (Genesis 1–2). The act of creation is rooted in love and compassion: When God sees that Adam may be lonely, he creates a companion in Eve (Genesis 2:18–25).

From the divine imagination, comes creation. And God looks at his creation and gives again. Everything good in our world is based in giving.

2. Jesus Is a Great Gift from God the Father

But after creation, humanity went astray and mucked it all up. This put us humans out of alignment with God; and it put us out of alignment with the intention of God's creation (Genesis 3).

God once again looks at his creation and decides on a solution; he decides to give. That solution is the gift of Jesus (God the Son). And that's what we celebrate at Christmas time: God becoming flesh in Jesus (Luke 1–2). In Jesus, we have salvation (John 1; 3:16).

3. God Often Provides for Us Using the Ordinary

In Jesus, we see the miraculous. But the way God comes in flesh should tell us something: Out of what seems to be ordinary, God will do the extraordinary. God chooses an ordinary Jewish family and the savior is born in an ordinary place, in impoverished circumstances. The miraculous comes through the unexpected.

God certainly provides via the completely miraculous: We see this when God provides for the Hebrew people while they're roaming in the wilderness (Exodus 16). But more often than not, God uses other people to bring about his provision. And that also seems pretty ordinary.

This is why Paul pleads with the Corinthian church to honor their obligation to help the impoverished church in Jerusalem (2 Corinthians 9:1–15). He knows that God will use ordinary people to accomplish his work. Paul himself also depended on other people when he was imprisoned and mentions these types of moments often in his letters (e.g., Philemon 1; Philippians 5:25).

4. Through Giving, We Ourselves Are Changed

When people helped Paul, or those he advocated for (like the Jerusalem church), they themselves were changed. Paul emphasizes this:

"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" (2 Corinthians 9:11 NIV).

Generosity gives us an opportunity to honor God with what he has given us. It enriches our souls. Paul explains this another way earlier in this same passage:

"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" (2 Corinthians 9:6–8 NIV).

We as Christians are expected to steward the resources we are given. If we give generously, God will give generously to us. That giving from God may not come in the ways our culture can measure, but it will come.

At the core of the Christian value is a value of giving. Let's give this Christmas season.

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Right now it's highly likely that you're facing some problem or difficulty that seems impossible to overcome. I've been there. For that matter, I am there. But if there's anything I've learned about faith, it's that Jesus is in the business of hope. Here are four reflections on hope and why it's such a critical part of faith. Here's how hope can change your life, right now.

1. Faith is Hope

When the author of the biblical book Hebrews explained faith, he spoke of hope.

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1 ESV).

As Christians, we do not physically see Jesus. We also do not know when he will return to earth. But we believe (have faith) in him. We have a conviction about that which we cannot see.

Ask yourself: Has God called you to a purpose? Now ask yourself: Do you believe in Jesus' work in your life and the world? If your answer is "yes" to both of those things, then really it shouldn't be hard to take the next step: To hope in what Jesus will do in your life. Have hope that God will see through his purpose in your life.

You may not have faith in yourself, but you can have faith in Jesus working through you. Faith is hope. And it can have incredible power in our lives.

2. Hope is Magical: It's Miraculous

Hope is magical; or better put, it’s miraculous. It changes our perspective and it changes lives.

Consider for a moment one the great problems of our world: extreme poverty, the fact that there are millions of people around the world trying to survive on less than a $1.25 per day.

Now consider that the developing world is full of people with tenacity and strength who lack the resources to make their dreams reality. They need hope. They need opportunities. Those of us with resources can offer them hope. Something as simple as our purchasing and donating decisions can change lives.

When we give of our time, money, or resources, we have the opportunity to watch Jesus’ work in the world. That act of faith should give us hope.

Each of us have a chance to see God at work, to put our hope into action. And doing so can offer us hope in return.

3. Having Hope for Someone Else Can Personally Give You Hope

The incredible thing about offering someone hope is that doing so also offers you hope. It makes you believe in what the person you’re helping is yet to see. It changes the way you feel about the state of that person’s life, and in doing so, causes you to think about what hope God has in store for you.

Having hope for someone else gives you a small glimpse at God’s eternal perspective. You briefly see the connections God does: how he has used you to help someone else, and how he will likely use someone else to help you. And it doesn't take long to get from there to believing in what God can do in your life.

4. Hope is an Opportunity for This Generation

Jesus has great opportunities in store for this generation. He is the hope that Hebrews 11 speaks about. It is his work through the Spirit that we’re anticipating and desire to fully realize. It is Jesus’ second coming that we wait for. But it is his work now that we live for.

As Christians, we are convicted that Jesus was resurrected from death and is working even now. We believe in what he is yet to do, and we should do everything we can to be a part of it.

In hope, there is something magical that ignites our spirits—and it’s something we can bring to others in the name of the Jesus.

 

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This article is adapted in part from my earlier article, "Hope is Magical."

Jesus fought against poverty and regularly advocated that his followers do the same. Jesus’ ministry can be characterized as one of faith in action. He had faith that the evil that causes poverty can be beat. And he asked that we be people who fight against poverty.

Jesus on Poverty and How to Beat It

Here are seven life-changing sayings from Jesus about the impoverished and poverty in general. Read them slowly and let the meaning of each sink in.

  1. “For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me” (Matthew 26:11).
  2. “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (Mark 10:21).
  3. “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box” (Mark 12:43).
  4. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18).
  5. “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God” (Luke 6:20).
  6.  “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them ...” (Luke 7:22).
  7. “But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind ...” (Luke 14:13).

So What Did Jesus Think about Poverty?

First and foremost, poverty was personal for Jesus. He was born poor, lived among the poor, and advocated for the poor.

Jesus also shows us that poverty is not merely a nameless thing we fight; it's advocating for people, living in real relationship with them. Fighting poverty is relational.

Poverty should also be personal to us. If we are to call ourselves Christians, we must take action to alleviate poverty.

Jesus cared deeply about the poor. We, as his followers, must do the same. We must embrace the God who came as a poor man, lived as a poor man, and died as a poor man.

Jesus Changed the Face of Poverty

Jesus gives us the power to fight both spiritual and physical poverty. When he came as a poor man and died as a poor man and rose as a poor man, he beat evil itself. He gave us the power to beat whatever difficulties we may face.

Jesus is good news to the poor. We must act on Jesus' values—loving others with everything we have, in every moment, in proclamation of the eternal life Jesus offers.

 

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This article is adapted in part from my earlier article: "7 of Jesus' Life-Altering Sayings about the Poor."

When Jesus looks at the world, he sees what can be. Jesus shows us what the kingdom of heaven looks like and asks us to live its principles here on earth. This means turning normal personal economics upside down. This is what Jesus' economy looks like. Here are five ways you can live Jesus' economy.

1. Be Willing to Drop Everything for Jesus

When Jesus first called his disciples, they dropped everything to follow him:

“Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, [Jesus] saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.’ And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him” (Mark 1:16–20 ESV).

Jesus’ earliest followers literally dropped their livelihoods to follow him—they completely dedicated themselves to him. Similarly, we are called to make sacrifices for Jesus—to show others love by giving, praying, and investing in them. For Jesus, belief and actions are one and the same—you cannot have one without the other. We must be willing to give whatever Jesus asks of us.

2. Rethink How You Use Your Money

To a young rich man, Jesus says:

“If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (Matthew 19:21; see 19:16–30 ESV).

When it comes to our time and resources, Jesus has an entirely different economy in mind. Is money standing between you and Jesus? How can you use it to help and empower the impoverished?

3. Recognize Sacrifice and Appreciate It

Regarding a poor widow who put a seemingly insignificant amount of money into the offering box, Jesus says:

“Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on” (Mark 12:43–44; see 12:41–44 ESV).

The currency of Jesus’ kingdom is different than ours. Jesus’ currency is self-sacrifice and love.

4. Don't Hesitate, Not Even for a Moment

To a man with a recently lost love one, Jesus said:

“’Follow me.’ But [the man] said [to Jesus], ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God’” (Luke 9:59–60 ESV).

Jesus was right there, calling him in person. And this meant the man had to act now. We all have these moments in life: When Jesus tells us to act now, and we have to take him seriously when he says so.

For Jesus, it’s all about God’s kingdom. For us, it too should be all about God’s kingdom. From a different man, Jesus hears:

“‘I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.’ Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God’” (Luke 9:61–62 ESV).

There are no hesitations in service to God’s kingdom and there is no looking back—it’s all about what God is doing here and now. It’s all about putting our hand to the plow of God’s work. If you love God, you love the kingdom and you love people. If you love the kingdom, you’re not going to ask yourself what else is important: you’re going to just live for the kingdom.

5. Care Deeply about the Impoverished and Unreached

At the end of it all, Jesus notes that he will recognize those who follow him by whether or not they are caring for the impoverished, outsider, and marginalized. This is what the "least of these" passage is about (Matthew 25:31–46).

Jesus has also given us a mandate to bring the gospel to those who are yet to hear his name. Jesus' economy is not just about alleviating physical poverty; it's also about alleviating spiritual poverty. Jesus tells us to "make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:1920).

God has asked us to demonstrate our belief by bringing good news to those who feel hopeless. We are called to drop everything for him. This is what Jesus’ economy is all about: envisioning what the world could look like and joining God in the process of making that vision a reality.

Jesus has called us to join him in his work—to believe in it with all we have. The cost may be hard to bear or understand at times, but when it’s put in the perspective of all that Christ has done for us—dying for our sins—it seems like very little.

 

Get more free articles like this one, our daily devotional, and updates: Subscribe now. This article is part of our weekly series, “Living for Jesus.” 

 

This article is adapted in part from two of my earlier articles: "God's Economy: Being What We Believe" and "God's Economy Part Two: Truly Following Jesus."

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