It’s Not About Me

By Chelsea Pollard

We don’t like hearing this, do we? I certainly don’t. Living in an individualistic world, I often find myself only thinking about, well, me. “I just want to be happy.” “I want to do what I want to do.” “This is inconvenient for me.” Occasionally, I have to be mindful of the fact that it’s not about me.

My husband, Gary, was preaching this past Sunday on 1 Peter 4:7ff. I’d like to share some thoughts on the topic of suffering for a purpose.

The end of all things is near” (v. 7). Our lives are very short (James 4:14), which is why Peter gave us commands for how we are to respond when coming under fire for our faith. We are to be alert and of sober mind. This means we need to be rational instead of reactionary. When we come under fire for our faith, it’s easier to stoop to their level. If someone is being ugly towards you, it’s easy to be ugly back. As Christians, we need to be calm when dealing with persecution, so that we may pray. This is essential in order for our prayers to be heard by God.

Above all, love each other deeply” (v. 8). He is emphasizing how important our love for one another is. When we are dealing with persecution, we need to love our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and rely on them. Having a strong and supportive church family can make all of the difference for a Christian who is just going through it, whether they are under fire from family, friends, or coworkers.

Offer hospitality and use your gifts to serve others (v. 9-10).  If you can use your words to help others, do so. If you can serve others, do so. Don’t hold back for your family!

So that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ” (v. 11).  It’s not about me. It’s about Him! It’s about loving and serving your Christian family so that God may be praised in all things.

Chelsea lives in Bowling Green, KY, with her husband, Gary, and her dog, Bear. Chelsea and Gary have been married for five years (woo!) and Bear was rescued from a swamp. Chelsea works at Western Kentucky Heart and Lung. She enjoys quiet nights in with her husband and playing all the card/ board games she can with family, even if she loses (sometimes).

A Recipe for Helpfulness

By Emily Moore

Have you ever tasted something so delicious that you try recreating it yourself? The problem is, if can’t find a recipe, there is no way of knowing exactly what the dish needs. Thankfully, God gives us recipes when it comes to helping others. Paul’s first letter to Thessalonica is filled with practical instruction about helping other Christians in their walk. 

In 1 Thessalonians 5:14, Paul provides a key ingredient to helping the church: give each person what they need. Each person is different, but it’s easy to fall into the habit of generic outreach. We develop these blanket statements for whatever need arises such as, “praying for you,” “let me know if you need anything,” etc. There is nothing wrong with these phrases, but we have to make sure they are specific to the person’s need. Prayer is for every situation, and people need to know you’re there for them. However, our outreach is more effective if we tailor it to the individual’s circumstances. The hardest part about this task is figuring out exactly what the need is. Three things will help you determine a struggling Christian’s personal need. 

#1 Watch…In our fast-paced society, it’s easy for others’ lives to become a blur as we fly through our own. Next time you are at worship, a fellowship gathering, work, or anywhere else in the world, step outside of yourself and be on the lookout for those who seem down, stressed, or lonely. Noticing external cues is a major part of picking up on opportunities to help. 

#2 Ask…Too often, we fail to directly ask people about specific challenges and how we can help. In 1 Thess. 5:14, Paul mentions specific groups: “the idle,” “the fainthearted,” and “the weak.” Spiritual weakness or faintheartedness can be masked by a smile or humor, and many people are reluctant to express need for fear of seeming selfish or weak. We all need help pushing past spiritual plateaus or discouragement. Think about how much stronger others or you would be if someone asked to carry the burden too. Asking others about their struggles takes courage, but think about how much courage you’re challenging them to have by confiding in you. Ask people to share their trials with you! It will help you as much as it helps them.

#3 Listen…It’s a simple concept, yet so hard to do consistently. Take a lesson from God’s example. He gave us numerous verses on prayer. Our Father wants us to tell Him everything we are going through, grateful for, happy about…He wants to hear it ALL. Notice how many of those verses mention Him hearing us. He listens, and so should we. People should know they can come to us (His people) when they need help. Whether someone comes to you on their own or you ask them to share their life with you, listen. This act alone is a ministry!

These principles should be applied not just to Christians but to any and everyone who needs help. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul says, “as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone…” (Gal. 6:10). Love and the good news of the gospel are two needs that apply to EVERYONE. Watch for those in need; ask them about it and listen for ways to help.

Alive After the Suffering!

By Kathy Pollard

Luke opens the book of Acts with a bang as he presents Jesus as the risen Savior. It makes me think of the words of an old hymn, “He lives! He lives! Christ Jesus lives today!” How thrilling it must’ve been for Luke to pen the words, “He…presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking the things concerning the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3)! The reactions of Jesus’ followers are recorded for us to enjoy. Some women and His disciples show amazement and joy. Thomas needed a little more convincing but ultimately believed. Jesus’ comeback made an impact.

2020 was a year like no other. We try to focus on the blessings, but there is no doubt there were plenty of challenges. Many endured the loss of loved ones, financial ruin, relationship strain, or physical distress. It was rough. How did Christians hold up? How did the world see us? Maybe we could’ve done better, I don’t know. But I do know that opportunity awaits! Our neighbors, friends, and co-workers are still watching and, like Jesus, we can show them that we are “alive after [our] suffering.” The text says that Jesus used “many convincing proofs.” While we can’t read hearts or perform miracles like He did, we most certainly can follow His example. Notice two “proofs” He did that we can do, too:

“Appearing to them over a period of forty days…” Jesus went out among the people. He sought out His disciples. He appeared to crowds. He spoke with individuals. After His great suffering, He didn’t stay away. He didn’t barricade Himself in the safety zone of heaven. He went out among weak humanity, including those who let Him down. This challenges me! With the political turmoil, worldly agenda, fear and suspicion, it’s tempting to hole up somewhere safe until things die down. But so many around us are suffering in the worst way, trying to live without Jesus and navigating the darkness on their own. They need to see the risen Savior and the only way to do that is for His people to put in an appearance. Perhaps on this first day of the year, there are those who are ready for something new and whose hearts are open to change. It’s exciting to think we have this fresh open door of opportunity to show Jesus to our community!

“Speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God…” Jesus went out among the people and made the most of those encounters by giving them hope. He met two individuals on a roadside and “explained to them the things concerning Himself and the Scriptures.” He touched their hearts and they said, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?” And then they “got up that very hour” and went on to tell others, “the Lord has really risen” (Luke 24:13-35)! Jesus opened their eyes (v. 31) and helped them see that He truly was alive after the suffering.

Perhaps one of your New Year’s resolutions is to be a better Bible student by committing to daily Bible reading or participating in a Scripture writing plan. An easy way to “speak the things concerning the kingdom of God” is to determine to verbally share something you read that day. Did something strengthen you in your reading? Did a phrase intrigue you? Were you challenged to do better or make a change? Whatever it is, look for a way to share it with someone, every single day. It could be as simple as saying, “That reminds me of something I read just this morning…” What will you be doing? Offering hope. Leaving people better than you found them. Helping others see Jesus.

This can be a great year for Christ. Let’s get out there, encounter the people, and speak of the only things that are real and lasting. A simple phrase here, a little thought there, a post about the Bible…let’s show the world that Christians are ALIVE after 2020.