1. She Hath Done What She Could
“She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.” Mark 14:8 & 9
Two years ago just before Christmas I kept hearing a song play over and over on the radio. It begins with these words, “So this is Christmas and what have you done? Another year over, a new one just begun…” Every time I heard the song the question pierced deeper into my thoughts and I found myself singing the song many times over throughout the day. “So this is Christmas and what have you done? Another year over, a new one just begun…” I started asking myself what I had done the previous year to make a difference in the lives of those around me, and I could find no answers. Sure, I had cooked to feed my family, and washed clothes to keep them clean, but what had I done to really make a difference? Jesus went to the house of Simon, and Mary took an alabaster box of precious ointment and poured it on his head. The gospel of John also tells us that she anointed his feet and wiped them with her hair. (John 12:3) “And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her. And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? She hath wrought a good work on me.” (Mark 14:4-6) Have you done a good work for Jesus? Jesus said that Mary would be remembered for this work she did. When you think back through the year, can you remember what works you did for the Lord? Before the year was over I decided that I would try to make a difference in the lives of those around me. Every day after that, I tried to do something special for at least one person that day. I didn’t tell anyone my plans, and the things I did were not great things that were noticed by others, but at the next year’s end when I heard the song again, I knew in my heart that I had made a difference in the lives of those around me.
2. Exhort One Another Daily
“But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” Hebrews 3:13
These four small words can mean so much, “exhort one another daily”. We are Christians and we are to lift up one another spiritually. But I am afraid that many times we tear one another down. Paul gives a warning to Timothy about some people, “And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.” (I Timothy 5:13) We should not gossip and try to tear down other people, but we should exhort them and build them up. We read again in Hebrews 10:24 & 25, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Be considerate to others and build them up. This can be as simple as complimentary and kind words… “I really enjoyed the song you sang”, or “The Lord really blessed my heart hearing your testimony”. Look for good qualities in those around you and tell them that you appreciate them. There are many faithful people in our churches who don’t teach Sunday School or sing in the choir, but they are faithful to God and in their prayer life and they come to church many times when they don’t feel like coming. Tell them you appreciate their faithfulness. Sometimes we all get discouraged and weary in well doing, and kind words from others can lift us up and give us encouragement to keep on keeping on. “…Exhort one another daily, while it is call To day…”
3. Use Your Gifts And Talents For Others
“Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did. And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber. And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them. Then Peter arose and went with them, When he was come, they brought him unto the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them. But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she was Peter, she sat up.” Acts 9:36-40
Another way we can make a difference in the lives of others is to use our God given talents and gifts for others. Here is the story of Dorcas. We read that she was “full of good works and almsdeeds”. She gave of herself to others. She had a talent of weaving or sewing and making clothes and she used her talent for others. My mother has a wonderful talent for sewing. Her close friends know that she has sewed for weddings and special occasions, and made beautiful curtains, but not many know that she has also sewed for children and widows just to give them something new to wear. She has used her talent to help others, not to be seen or noticed, but just to make a difference in their lives. You may not have that special talent for sewing. But you can pray and ask God to show you what you can do for others. There is a woman in our church who enjoys baking pound cakes. She is often seen bringing a cake to church to give to others. She is using her gift to bless others. If you like to bake pies or cookies and you don’t need to eat the whole thing, share a portion with someone and let them know you are thinking of them. Find your gift or talent and use it to make a difference to others.
4. Lay Up Treasures In Heaven
“And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, this will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry, But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then Whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:16-21
Jesus was teaching the multitude and a man interrupted him and said, “Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.” (Luke 12:13) “And he said unto him, May, who made me a judge or a divider over you? And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” (Luke 12:14 & 15) Jesus went on to tell them the parable of the rich fool. Then Jesus went on to say, “Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Luke 12:27-34) Not only should be use our gifts and talents for others, but we can also give of our abundance to others. Some people in our church raise gardens. And when the Lord blesses and they have more than they can use, it is common to see them bring fresh vegetables to church to give to some who don’t have the time or space to raise their own gardens. John the Baptist preached to the people to bring forth fruits worthy of repentance, “And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.” (Luke 3:11 & 12) If your children have outgrown their clothes, give them to someone that can use them. My children always enjoyed going through a box of “new” clothes someone was passing on to them. And we in turn, passed everything they outgrew on to others. But don’t stop there. How long has it been since you went through your own clothes and pulled out the ones you can’t wear? Don’t be like the rich fool and say, “I need to build another closet to store all my clothes”, instead, why not share God’s blessings to you with others?
5. Make A Difference In The Lives Of Others
“But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works…” Titus 2:1-7
You can make a difference in the lives of younger people by taking time to teach them things to help them in daily living and also teach them the things of God. I was raised in a good Christian home, with Christian parents who taught me valuable life lessons and also taught me to trust God’s Word for guidance. But many do not have that opportunity. If there are young converts in your church encourage them and show them true Christian love. Make sure you don’t criticize others or be hypocritical and discourage them. There may also be young couples in your church that are struggling, either financially or in other areas, as they start their families. It would mean a lot to them for you to invite them over for a meal and fellowship. Or maybe even more for you to offer to keep their children so they can have a relaxing meal together. Our kindness should not only be shown to those who are younger, but we can also help those who are older. There are many elderly people who can’t get out much in the cold winter air and a short visit would mean a lot to them. Do what you can this coming year to brighten the lives of those around you.
6. Overcome Evil With Good
“Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21
We live in a sin-cursed world. Every day we watch the news or read the newspaper we can see the evil works of wicked men. Paul is exhorting us, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” We can look back at several verses in this same chapter on ways we can strive to accomplish this. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think…” (Verses 1-3) Proverbs 6:17 tells us that the Lord hates a proud look. Paul goes on to tell us to use our gifts, verse 8, “Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.” There is so much contained in the remainder of the chapter. Think about these verses and how they can help you “…overcome evil with good.” “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore is thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:9-21)
7. The Year Of The Lord
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord." Luke 4:18 7 19
This is the first record of Jesus speaking in the synagogue in the book of Luke. He opened the book to Isaiah (chapter 61 in our Bible) and read this scripture and then said, "This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears." (Luke 4:21) Jesus came to do all those things; give the gospel to the poor, heal the brokenhearted, preach deliverance, and give sight to the blind. He came "To preach the acceptable year of the Lord." We have come almost 2000 years since this scripture was fulfilled. The poor are still hearing the gospel, captives of sin are being set free, the brokenhearted are still being loved, and praise the Lord, the blind are still receiving sight. By His Amazing Grace, "I once was blind, but not I see". As the death toll nears 150,000 in 11 countries near Indonesia and Thailand from the earthquake and tsunami that hit last week, my heart aches for the survivors who lost everything they have, and now battle hunger and thirst, disease, and even crocodiles. I have read quotes from many that say they have no reason to live. Their homes were washed away and their family members were killed as the wave destroyed everything in its path. Pray that God will "heal the brokenhearted". And pray that as the food, water, blankets, and medicines reach them, the gospel message will also reach them. And do all you can for the Lord each day. This may be the year of His Return.
8. Do What You Can
“And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head. And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her. And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me. For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always. She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.” Mark 14:3-9
I am taking a break from our Thanksgiving devotions today because the Lord laid these verses on my heart a few days ago and I keep pondering them in my heart. Mary of Bethany had some precious ointment and she poured it on the head of Jesus and on His feet and wiped His feet with her hair. (John 12:1-8) There were some that ridiculed Mary saying that she should have sold the ointment and given the money to the poor. But Mary was giving the best she had to her Lord. I like the comforting words of Jesus, "Let her alone, why trouble ye her?... She hath done what she could..." My prayer each day is that the Lord will help me do what I can to serve Him. We serve the Lord by serving others. I was first a daughter, and I strive to be the best daughter I can be. Since my Dad died I try to keep in touch with Mom and spend more time with her. We work together around the house and enjoy short trips together. Next, I was a sister. I try to be the best sister I can be and give a listening ear when they call. I have been given many names through the years and sometimes I pray, "God help me be the best wife I can be, the best mother, the best mother-in-law, the best daughter-in-law, the best grandmother", and the list goes on. Many times I do things or say things which are misunderstood and those around me criticize and harbor bad feelings against me. All I can do about that is pray. Today I read in Ephesians 4:31 and 32, "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." It's time we started being the best Christians we can be and do what we can in love with tender hearts. Don't focus on what you can't do. Don't harbor ill-will against your brothers and sisters in Christ. Let the law of kindness rule your heart and do what you can for the Lord.