"I've had it with you! You're hopeless, you Pharisees! Frauds! You keep
meticulous account books, tithing on every nickel and dime you get, but manage
to find loopholes for getting around basic matters of justice and God's love.
Careful bookkeeping is commendable, but the basics are required." (Luke 11:42,
Who cares if I swear or not? Who norices if I pay tithe or not? Who knows if I am baptized or not? Does it make any difference at all to the people of this world?
Don't get me wrong, I am not advocating swearing or not paying tithe; I'm not saying you don't need to be baptized. What I am saying is that in the eyes of the world's, these things are insignificant.
If we focus on the poor and take care for them, however, only then will the world notice us. People notice when we encourage the discouraged, and visiting the sick in the hospital is also looked upon with favor. In a word, love attracts people. In a world of indifference, people hunger for real love. We should put aside any our of own agendas and focus on loving others, just like Jesus did.
When we decide to not swear or to pay tithe or be baptized, we show our love towards our Heavenly Father, and our Heavenly Father will notice us; but out good deeds are noticed by the world, and we have to ask ourselves, what is the most important? Paying tithe in the offering plate at church? Or giving to our neighbor who can't pay her rent? What is more important in God's eyes? "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." (Matt 7:12, NIV2)
Even better, why not do both?
Still one can help the poor for the wrong reasons: "When you do something for someone else, don't call attention to yourself. You've seen them in action, I'm sure-'playactors' I call them- treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that's all they get." (Matt 6:2, MSG)
We can even pray for reasons far from ideal: "And when you come before God, don't turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat?" (Matt 6:5, MSG)
In anything we do, we should do it with love, not for our self-interest. After all, Jesus showed the way: "We love because he first loved us." (1 John 4:19, NIV2)
How many times have we reached to the homeless? How often have we travelled to other countries to help the helpless, support the poor and heal the stricken? Remember that going through the motions at church will not save us: "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. . . Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'" (Matt 25:34-36, 40, NIV2) It's all about love, not rules!
If we have not been transformed by Jesus, love will never be abundant in our lives. We are saved not by what we do, but by our Father's loving grace: "And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace." (Rom 11:6, NIV2) It's all about Jesus who showed us what grace truly looked like: "God's Spirit is on me; he's chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor, Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, To set the burdened and battered free," (Luke 4:18, MSG)
After all, "This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you." (John 15:12, MSG)
Around 5:30 pm on December 14, 1902, the crew of the life-saving station in Charlotte, New York, was notified that a boat was in distress about 23 miles up the coast.
Life-saving station keeper George N. Gray immediately went into action to save the poor people on that boat. There was no way for them to row the surfboat 23 miles against heavy winds in a wintery night, however, George decided to put it aboard a train; but deep snow surrounding the train caused a 2-hour delay as a gang of shovelers worked to free the rails. They didn't reach the destination train station until 9:35 in the evening.
Once there, the weather was even worse. They had to use sleds pulled by four horses to transport the surfboat four miles from the train station to the water, and snowdrifts reaching six feet hindered the crew even further. They finally arrived at the shore around 11:30 pm.
Once in the surfboat, the sea was tumultuous and the wind was bitterly cold. Though they couldn't see anything, they didn't give up rowing. George had to rely on his compass for directions.
They rowed for 3 ½ hours without finding the boat in distress. They were disheartened that they had no choice but to return to shore to await daylight.
Back on shore, a bonfire was built, but still they couldn't locate the boat in distress. George then sent his team along the cliffs to search the coastline, but to no avail.
They decided to go back into the water, leaving one-man ashore who would climb a nearby windmill. Finally, the boat was detected. After 10 miles of rowing, the wind shifted to the east, and the waves became even more tumultuous. It was so cold that the ocean spray covered the boat and its inhabitants with cold ice. The crew had difficulties keeping their bearings.
Amazingly, they reached the boat in distress around 11:30 a.m., 20 miles off shore. That boat had lost its sails, its yawl boat, and both anchors, and the cabin had been smashed in. The boat, covered in ice, was leaking fast. The people on board had lost hope. They were lying on deck, some benumbed, some hysterical, and all suffering from exposure.
Even though George and his crew were worn out, they covered the poor passengers, four men and a woman, and brought them into their boat. They reached the shore around 4:30 P.M., a mile and a half from their launching spot.
Once onshore, their trials were far from over. There was so much ice that the boat could not land, and the crew had no choice but to carry the rescued people on their shoulders ashore. Eventually they reached their life-saving station at Charlotte, NY, around 11:30 pm. That was about 1 1/2 day work without sleep!
They truly deserved the Gold Lifesaving Medal that they received. While many others would have given up the rescue, they didn't. They risked their lives to save others. Love compelled them and because of that, they were greatly rewarded.
Only love can carry us through. The only thing we have to do is focus on Jesus, the One who taught us about genuine love.
What would we do if there was a ship in distress on an icy cold day?
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