Thomas knew what he needed to do. Having been born to a poor family in India and adopted by Americans, upon a return trip to India he witnessed the dire needs of the children in his hometown. So he knew he had to help. He began making plans to return to the US, finish his education, make a lot of money, and come back in the future.
Then, after reading James 2:14–18 in which the apostle asks, “What good is it . . . if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds?,” Thomas heard a little girl in his native country cry out to her mother: “But Mommy, I’m hungry now!” He was reminded of the times he had been intensely hungry as a child—searching through trash cans for food. Thomas knew he couldn’t wait years to help. He decided, “I’ll start now!”
Today the orphanage he began houses fifty children who are well cared for, learning about Jesus, getting an education, and having plenty to eat—all because one man didn’t put off what he knew God was asking him to do.
James’s message applies to us as well. Our faith in Jesus Christ provides us with great advantages—a relationship with Him, an abundant life, and a future hope—but what good is it doing anyone else if we don’t reach out and help those in need? Can you hear the cry: “I’m hungry now?”
When Abby was a sophomore in high school, she and her mom heard a news story about a young man who’d been critically injured in a plane accident—an accident that took the lives of his father and stepmother. Although they didn’t know this person, Abby’s mom said, “We just need to pray for him and his family.” And they did.
Fast forward a few years, and one day Abby walked into a class at her university. A male student offered her the seat next to him. That student was Austin Hatch, the plane crash victim Abby had prayed for. Soon they were dating, and in 2018 they were married.
“It’s crazy to think that I was praying for my future husband,” Abby said in an interview shortly before they were married.
It can be easy to limit our prayers to our own personal needs and for those closest to us, without taking the time to pray for others. However, Paul, writing to the Christians at Ephesus, told them to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kind of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and keep praying for all the Lord’s people” (Ephesians 6:18). Also, 1 Timothy 2:1 tells us to pray “for all people,” especially those in authority.
Let’s intercede for others—even people we don’t know. It’s one of the ways we can “carry each other’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2).
I was eager to return to St. James Infirmary in Montego Bay, Jamaica, and reconnect with Rendell, who two years earlier had learned about Jesus’s love for him. Evie, a teenager in the high school choir I travel with each spring, had read Scripture with Rendell and explained the gospel, and he personally received Jesus as his Savior.
When I entered the men’s section of the home and looked toward Rendell’s bed, however, I found it was empty. I went to the nurse’s station, and was told what I didn’t want to hear. He had passed away—just five days before we arrived.
Through tears, I texted Evie the sad news. Her response was simple: “Rendell is celebrating with Jesus.” Later she said, “It’s a good thing we told him about Jesus when we did.”
Her words reminded me of the importance of being ready to lovingly share with others the hope we have in Christ. No, it’s not always easy to proclaim the gospel message about the One who will “be with [us] always” (Matthew 28:20), but when we think about the difference it made for us and for people like Rendell, perhaps we’ll be encouraged to be even more ready to “make disciples” wherever we go (v. 19).
I’ll never forget the sadness of seeing that empty bed—and also the joy of knowing what a difference one faithful teen made in Rendell’s forever life.
It was a dark and somber day in the outskirts of Jerusalem. On a hill just outside the city walls, a Man who’d been attracting crowds of eager followers for the past three years hung in disgrace and pain on a rough wooden cross. Mourners wept and wailed in sorrow. The light of the sun no longer brightened the afternoon sky. And the intense suffering of the Man on the cross ended when He cried out in a loud voice, “It is finished!” (Matthew 27:50; John 19:30).
At that very moment, another sound came from the great temple across town—the sound of ripping fabric. Miraculously, without human intervention, the huge, thick veil that separated the outer temple from the Holy of Holies tore in two from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51).
That torn curtain symbolized the reality of the cross: a new way was now open to God! Jesus, the Man on the cross, had shed His blood as the last sacrifice—the one true and sufficient sacrifice (Hebrews 10:10)—which allows all who believe in Him to enjoy forgiveness and enter into a relationship with God (Romans 5:6–11).
Amidst the darkness of that original Good Friday, we received the best news ever—an open door to be saved from our sins and to experience fellowship with God forever (Hebrews 10:19–22). Thank God for the message of the torn veil!
As the enemy occupation of the Netherlands grew, Anne Frank and her family bravely prepared and then moved to a secret hiding place to escape the danger. They remained there two years during World War II before being found and sent to concentration camps. Yet Anne, writing in what became her famous Diary of a Young Girl said this: “In the long run, the sharpest weapon of all is a kind and gentle spirit.”
Gentleness can be a complicated issue as we deal with real life.
In Isaiah 40 we get a picture of God that shows Him to be both gentle and powerful. In verse 11 we read: “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms.” But that verse follows this: “See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and he rules with a mighty arm” (v. 10). Full of power, but gentle when it comes to protecting the vulnerable.
And think of Jesus, who fashioned a whip and brandished it as He flipped over the money-changers tables in the temple but who also gently cared for children. He used powerful words to denounce the Pharisees (Matthew 23:1-39) but forgave a woman who needed His gentle mercy (John 8:1–11).
While there may be times to stand up with power for the weak and challenge others to pursue justice—we’re also to “let [our] gentleness be evident to all” (Philippians 4:5). As we serve God, sometimes our greatest strength reveals a heart of gentleness to those in need.
I’m encouraged every time I visit the fitness center near our house. In that busy place, I’m surrounded by others who are striving to improve their physical health and strength. Posted signs remind us not to judge each other, but words and actions that reveal support for others’ conditioning efforts are always welcomed.
What a great picture of how things should look in the spiritual realm of life! Those of us who are striving to “get in shape” spiritually, to grow in our faith, can sometimes feel as if we don’t belong because we’re not as spiritually fit—as mature in our walk with Jesus—as someone else.
Paul gave us this short, direct suggestion: “Encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). And to the believers in Rome he wrote: “Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up” (Romans 15:2). Recognizing that our Father is so lovingly gracious with us, let’s show God’s grace to others with encouraging words and actions.
As we “accept one another” (v. 7), let’s entrust our spiritual growth to God—to the work of His Spirit. And while we daily seek to follow Him, may we create an atmosphere of encouragement for our brothers and sisters in Jesus as they also seek to grow in their faith.
A law-abiding, honest man received a voicemail that said, “This is officer _______ from the police department. Please call me at this number.” Immediately the man began to worry—afraid that somehow he had done something wrong. He was afraid to return the call, and he even spent sleepless nights running through possible scenarios—worried that he was in some kind of trouble. The officer never called back, but it took weeks for the worry to go away.
Jesus asked an interesting question about worry: “Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:27). Perhaps this can help us rethink our tendency to worry, because it suggests that it doesn’t help the situation we are concerned about.
When problems are on the horizon for us, maybe we can try the following two-step approach: Take action and trust in God. If we can do something to avoid the problem, let’s try that route. We can pray for God to guide us to an action we should take. But if there’s nothing we can do, we can take comfort in knowing that God never finds Himself in such a predicament. He can always act on our behalf. We can always turn our situation over to Him in trust and confidence.
When it feels like time to worry, may we turn to the inspired words of King David, who faced his own share of difficulties and worries, but concluded: “Cast your cares on the
Recently a friend who sold homes for a living died of cancer. As my wife and I reminisced about Patsy, Sue recalled that many years ago Patsy had led a man to faith in Jesus and he became a good friend of ours.
How encouraging to recall that Patsy not only helped families find homes to live in here in our community, but she also helped others make sure they had an eternal home.
As Jesus prepared to go to the cross for us, He showed a keen interest in our eternal accommodations. He told His disciples, “I go to prepare a place for you” and reminded them that there would be plenty of room in His Father’s house for all who trusted Him (John 14:2
We love to have a nice home in this life—a special place for our family to eat, sleep, and enjoy each other’s company. But think of how amazing it will be when we step into the next life and discover that God has taken care of our eternal accommodations. Praise God for giving us life “to the full” (John 10:10), including His presence with us now and our presence with Him later in the place He is preparing for us (14:3).
Thinking of what God has in store for those who trust Jesus can challenge us to do as Patsy did and introduce others to Jesus.
Among the thousands of sentiments printed on greeting cards, perhaps one of the most touching is this simple statement: “Thanks for being you.” If you receive that card, you know that someone cares for you not because you did something spectacular for that person but because you’re appreciated for your essence.
I wonder if this kind of sentiment might indicate for us one of the best ways to say “Thank you” to God. Sure, there are times when God intervenes in our lives in a tangible way, and we say something like, “Thank You, Lord, for allowing me to get that job.” But most often, we can simply say, “Thank You, God, for being who You are.”
That’s what’s behind verses like 1 Chronicles 16:34: “Give thanks to the
Who God is. That’s reason enough for us to stop what we’re doing and praise and thank Him. Thank You, God, for just being You!