Larry Deeds

Hurricane Dorian is now history and we prepare for the next storm. But Dorian is still very much in the minds of many who lost loved ones, were injured, lost homes or had significant damage. Now the cleanup begins.

It’s good to see how people respond to the needs brought about by storms.

One news story showed a little boy in Allendale who spent his birthday money to buy hot dogs, chips and water. He stood beside the road giving food to evacuees.

On a larger scale, the U.S. Coast Guard was sent to the Bahamas. Franklin Graham’s ministry Samaritan’s Purse is already on the ground ministering to the physical and spiritual needs. The American Red Cross is there too.

Neighbors are chipping in to help clean up, fix up, restore.

Why don’t we live in this mode all the time? Why does it take a disaster for many people to get involved? There are needs all around, all the time. And all we have to do to find them is to open our eyes.

Living with open hearts and open hands should be the constant hallmark of the people of God. This was the lifestyle of Jesus; this should be the lifestyle of those who carry His name. This was the life of the early church in Acts.

In Acts 4:13, the people saw Christ in Peter and John and understood that “they had been with Jesus.” In Acts 11:26 the people of Antioch, seeing the life of the disciples began to call them “Christians.” And in Acts 17:6, seeing the Christ-followers in action, the people said of them “they turned the world upside down.”

This acknowledgement of the spirit of Jesus living in His followers was not just because of their words or the gospel they preached. It was because of the life they lived. The daily lives of these men and women so resembled the Christ’s life that those who saw them remembered Him.

What Christ do we show the world around us? It’s easy to call ourselves Christians; it’s easy to put our church decal on our car, a religious bumper sticker or a fish. But when we’re not in church, when we’re not in religious mode, what are we showing a world desperately in need of Jesus?

We show them the love, mercy, grace, compassion and generosity of Jesus as we live daily with open hearts and open hands. We must give sacrificially to those whose lives were devastated by Hurricane Dorian.

Many good organizations, perhaps even your church, are ministering to these people. But on a daily basis, we should also be giving to those in need.

God gives us financial means to help others. Contrary to the health and wealth gospel, all God ever promises us is “enough.” When we get more than enough, it’s to help others. We cannot give to every person or organization that begs money and we shouldn’t. But we can and should give to our church and to other worthwhile groups serving God.

God gives us talents and abilities to help others. I read of a church that ministered to widows and single mothers once a month by coming to the parking lot to change oil and do minor car maintenance.

Those with wood-working or carpentry skills, or electricians and plumbers can help with minor household problems. We can mow lawns and trim bushes. And others can find ways to use our gifts and skills for others.

God gives all of us 24 hours a day, which is sufficient for our needs, our family’s needs and the needs of others. In creation, God could have created a 48 hour day, but He knew that 24 hours would be enough if we used our time as He intends. Sociologists tell us that our generation has more discretionary time than any other generation in history. What do we do with it?

All we have to do is to be willing and to be available and to look for ways and people to help. And we must do so without the desire for reward, either monetary or otherwise. We give of ourselves when we really give of ourselves.

Christ was never bothered; He never felt that others wasted His time; He never refused to meet a need. He came, Mark says, not to be ministered to, but to minister to others.

As those who claim to be His, why are we so quick to be served and so slow to serve? With the hurricane gone, let’s seek out ways to help the victims and ways to help others. May we be seen loving and serving as others know that we have been with Christ.

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