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 "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine"   2 Timothy 4:2

Are you making a difference?

By S.J. Black

Are you making a difference in the world in which we all have to live?

I have found that I often ask myself this question or that the Holy Spirit is challenging me with this question.

First, let me state very clearly that our works have nothing to do with our salvation. Our salvation is a free gift of God that we receive because of His grace through faith. In order to provide all of the verses that one could use to support this position it would be necessary to cut and paste in a large portion of the New Testament. However, an excellent place to see this idea conveyed by the Apostle Paul is the book of Ephesians. In Ephesians 2:8-9, Paul wrote:
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast."

In these verses, Paul clearly tells us that we are saved if we have faith in Jesus and that there are no works required to obtain our salvation. But notice something that many people miss when reading the second chapter of Ephesians. Immediately after the above quoted verses, Paul goes on to tell us in verse 10:
"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."

Even a casual reading of verse ten suggests that when we accept Jesus as our savior that God has "good works" that He has prepared ahead of time (or pre-ordained) that we should be doing if we are truly seeking God's will for our lives. In other words, God has prepared good works for us ahead of time. If we are allowing God to lead us then He will lead us in a path that allows us to "walk into" the works He has prepared for us.

Personally, I am sick and tired of Christians who spend all their time in self-concern and who never try to reach out and minister to those around them. I am sick and tired of Christians who do not seem to have a problem with the fact that they are living in defeat day after day. We wonder why the Church today seems to be weak and lacks the power to make a difference against the flood of moral decay that is beginning to have a death grip on this nation?

The New Testament spends time in several areas comparing the Church to a person's physical body. The idea here is that each part of a person's body has a specific function. You could not replace your heart with your foot or vice versa. To properly function, your body needs each of its unique parts performing their specific function.

Each believer is given a gift or talent when they accept Jesus as their personal savior. In much the same way as the parts of our body, each of us as believers has a function that we can perform as a part of the Church. So many congregations these days expect the staff of their Church to "do it all." This is not the way God intended for the Body of Christ to operate. God intends for each of us to use our gifts and / or talents to contribute to our local congregation and to further the gospel.

Jesus told us in John 14:15:"If ye love me, keep my commandments." So what are Jesus' commandments?

The first commandment of Jesus that comes to my mind is found in Matthew 28:19-20 "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen." This section of Scripture is commonly referred to as the great commission.

Also in Matthew chapter 25, Jesus teaches that we should do things such as visit those in prison, feed the hungry, take in the stranger in need of a place to stay and give clothing to those in need to name a few.

Jesus also taught that we should love one another, infact, that we should even love our enemies.

This subject has been on my mind quite a bit lately as I watch the moral decay of our country. There are many people in the world today who are suffering, from problems such as famine, disease, the mental pain brought on by an abusive childhood, drug addiction, alcoholism and the list goes on.

The Lord has been wonderfully gracious in allowing me to make at least a little difference in some of the areas listed above.

Several months ago the Lord led me to begin a Bible Study for people who work in the area around my office one day a week at lunch. Through this study group myself and others have been able to witness to non-believers we work with when they came to visit the study.

Through the weekly study, the Lord is beginning to show me other ways that I can minister to people. He is showing me that I can make a difference. The Lord has been teaching me that we do not need to go to seminary or work in a ministry full time to make a difference. Rather, all we need is a heart that is willing to listen to His leading and a willingness to put ourselves aside temporarily on occasion for the benefit of those around us.

As a recovering alcoholic, the Lord is beginning to bring me in contact with others who are attempting to overcome alcoholism. I am really excited by the direction the Lord is leading in this area. It is not completely clear where He is leading me just yet, but I know that in His timing He will make it know where we are headed in this area. I can barely sit still with the excitement of waiting to see how it all turns out.

Please understand, I am not mentioning the study and other things the Lord has been doing in my life in order to brag about it. Far from it! The glory for these accomplishments belongs to the Lord only. In fact, in areas such as starting the study, it was a real test of wills for God to convince me to get going with the idea. Rather, my intent in writing about these things is to share what God can do through one person if they begin to truly listen to and obey what God is calling them to do.

To be quite honest, sometimes it might not be realistic for one of us to be directly involved with helping those in need. However, perhaps we can still lend financial support to ministries. Maybe we can contribute to the local homeless shelter or sponsor a child in a foreign country, for example.

Another important and powerful way we can get involved in support of various ministries is through our prayers. Our prayers can make an important contribution to various ministries even if it is not financially possible for us to contribute or logistically possible to physically help with the work of that ministry.

It is my prayer that each Christian would really search their hearts and seek God's will regarding an area of ministry in which they can become involved. I would like to lovingly challenge any brothers or sisters in Christ who read this to really search your heart. Is there something that God is leading you to do that you are resisting? Is there some task that your local Church is in need of someone to perform? Even mowing the yard or helping in the children's nursery? Not all of us are called to be a great preacher. But all of us are called to an area of ministry that God has pre-ordained for us when we become a member of the family of Christ.

Therefore, I challenge you that if you are not actively involved in your local Church or some other ministry to pray and ask God to show you where He would have you serve Him.



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