Saturday, June 6, 2015

Opportunities for Serving the Lord: Part I

“Let us not lose heart in doing good,

for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary.

So then, while we have opportunity,

let us do good to all men,

and especially to those who are the household of faith.”

– (Galatians 6: 9-10. NASB)

Life is full of opportunities. Opportunities fly around us like fall leaves floating through the air. There are so many different shapes and colors. Sometimes we find that one perfectly beautiful leaf and pick it up, while at other times we ignore the fallen leaves or actually step on them or over them if they obscure our view of what’s underneath. Opportunities, like leaves, can be so numerous that we overlook them or refuse to look closer at them.

When we were children, we recognized the joy that large amounts of fall leaves could bring. As children, we took every opportunity we could find to jump into large piles of leaves with joy in our hearts, while always seeing the possibilities of even more fun. But, just as the bagged leaves were thrown away by the adults, we too often throw away many golden opportunities given to us by God. Moreover, as adults, we have forgotten the joy that came from playing in the leaves as a child. Sadly, we can often forget the joy that can come from engaging in new opportunities. We also forget about the blessings that we can receive through God given opportunities and the blessings that we can give others by taking the opportunity to help or teach someone. Consequently, like the bagged leaves, we disregard or throw away many of our opportunities.

Just like the many different kinds of beautiful leaves that God has given us to enjoy, He has also given us many and varied opportunities to receive blessings, as well as opportunities to bless others. For example, He gives us opportunities to work, opportunities for an education, opportunities to meet other people, opportunities to save money, opportunities to do good, and opportunities to serve Him. God blesses us with varied opportunities throughout our life. Unfortunately, we don’t always recognize the opportunities that God places in our path. Worse yet are the many good opportunities that we do recognize, but we simply turn away from or turn down, because they take an effort that we are not willing to expend. Of the opportunities that we do recognize, we may also feel that we are not ready for that particular opportunity, or we may not want the responsibility that the opportunity brings. Sometimes, we are just afraid of the opportunity and what it could hold.

Along with the skills and talents that God gives to each woman, God also gives us opportunities to use those skills and talents for our enjoyment and enrichment, or to show our gratitude. One way we can show our gratitude is to take the opportunity to be of service in God’s Kingdom. Our service may be to be a godly mother and wife, or it may be to serve the Lord by becoming an Active Relational Christian Mentor to help other women. But whatever our service may be, it starts with a single opportunity.

From grade school on we are given opportunities to do good for others. As we continue to mature, we are given more and more opportunities to do good or to enrich our lives through our service to the Lord and others. In fact, within our lifetime God gives each of us thousands of opportunities to receive blessings or to bless others, whether we accept them or not. Some opportunities are given to us for personal improvement or financial betterment. Others are opportunities to meet the perfect mate, friend, or employer. But, throughout our lives, God also gives us opportunities to help other people through the talents, gifts, and perseverance that He has bestowed upon us. These opportunities can bring a blessing to another person, or can in some way bless our own life.

Besides personal opportunities, as Christian women we are often given an opportunity to help another woman, or we are given an opportunity to use our God-given gifts in some manner for the glory of the Kingdom of God. Active Relational Christian Mentoring often starts out as an opportunity to share our gifting, to teach another, to support someone, or to encourage another woman. ARCM does not require a specialized degree or intensive training in order to be of service to another woman through the mentoring opportunities that God places in our path. All it takes is for us to recognize an opportunity to mentor another and to then be willing to step forward to do so. “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.”  -- (Proverbs 25:11.  NIV).

Christian opportunities come to us in various ways and sometimes in unexpected ways. We may hear of woman in church who is sick and so offer to take her Sunday school class for her. We can take the opportunity to smile at a woman whom we may later discover was depressed and lonely. We can stop what we are doing and take an opportunity to pray for someone who needs prayer and help. We can take the opportunity to share our skills with a group of women who are looking to learn something new. We may also find that we have the opportunity to lead a Bible study. Perhaps, we even have the opportunity to visit someone from church who is in the hospital. But whatever the opportunity is that presents itself, we have to first recognize it for what it is and then actually do something about it. If we don’t, it is an opportunity missed. So many times, though, we fail to recognize opportunities and miss the blessings that God has in store for us. How do we miss the blessings? We miss these blessings when we fail to act upon an opportunity that God has given to bless us.

My husband’s mother told my husband of a lost financial blessing when his father failed to act upon a financial opportunity back in the 1940’s.  J.C., my husband’s father, was a very thrifty and hard working man. He had lived through the great depression, though, and did not trust many people and especially the banks, so he kept most of his money out of the bank and well-hidden. Although friends and even close acquaintances did not know he had money, there were a few who suspected that he had quite a bit of money.

One day, two men whom J.C. knew came to him and asked him if he would like to go in with them in developing a particular cave for tourism. The two investors really believed that this cave could become a very lucrative business and that once it was developed all they would have to do was to sit back and reap the rewards of all the admissions into the cave. The two men had even picked out a name for the cave. 

The men then told J.C. that they believed that thirty thousand dollars would be enough to not only buy the property, but to develop the entrance to cave and to advertise the cave for tourism. They proposed that if J.C. and the two of them each put in ten thousand dollars, they would have all the money needed for the project. Although, ten thousand dollars was a large sum of money back then, J.C. actually had the money to invest in the project. In fact, at that time J.C. had over ten thousand dollars in a paper sack under the seat of his truck, but instead of taking the opportunity to invest in the project, he told the men that he was not going to invest in a hole in the ground. He turned the two men down. Unfortunately, J.C. did not have a discerning spirit, and he wasn’t able to see the possibilities or recognize the opportunity being placed in front of him. He missed out on a blessing for himself and his family. 

Eventually, the two men were able to find another man who was willing to invest with them, and as they say, “the rest is history.”  Today, that cave is known as Bridal Cave. It is located near Camdenton, Missouri where every year, thousands of people go through “Beautiful and Romantic Bridal Cave”.  One section of the cave looks like a wedding chapel, and hundreds of couples have been married in the cave. Each year more and more couples come just to be married in the cave. So every few years, the owners of the cave will sponsor a wedding week-end and invite all the couples who were married in the cave to come back and renew their vows. Couples from around the world fly into Missouri to come again to renew their vows in Bridal Cave. What J.C. said was “just a hole in the ground” turned out to be a very great tourist attraction that has made millions for the original investors throughout the years.

All of us have heard stories similar to this one. Yes, refusing this opportunity resulted in lost money and potential lost blessings for J.C. and his family. He also lost the opportunity to travel down “the road not taken.” But, what about the relational and spiritual opportunities lost, simply because we refuse to invest in the lives of other people? What about the relational and spiritual blessings lost because we refuse to engage in an opportunity like Active Relational Christian Mentoring? Worse still, is losing the opportunity to share the Gospel message with someone. As Christians, we are supposed to be on the look-out for opportunities to share Christ with others.  But, we are also supposed to look for opportunities to help others as well. When we overlook or fail to recognize an opportunity to help someone else, we have missed a blessing that God had planned for us. We have failed, too, to bless someone else’s life when we give up an opportunity to speak into the life of another woman.

The Bible is full of stories of opportunities taken to share the Good News or to help someone in trouble. Jesus was always looking for opportunities to speak into the life of another person. Sometimes the opportunity just presented itself like on the day when Jesus came into Jericho and found Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector, who had climbed high up in a tree so that he could see Jesus. Zacchaeus was a short man and could not see over the crowds, and since tax collectors were hated by the general public, he knew that no one was going to make room for him to get close enough to Jesus to see him. So, Zacchaeus climbed a tree to see Jesus. When Jesus walked by the tree, He saw Zacchaeus up in the tree. Jesus could have left Zacchaeus there, ignored him, or even just acknowledged him as he passed by the tree. But, instead, “he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, come down immediately, I must stay at your house today.’”  Zacchaeus came down from the tree and said to the Lord Jesus, “‘Look, Lord! Here and now, I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.’”  -- (Luke 19: 5-10. NIV).

Jesus took the opportunity that day to stop and not only speak to Zachaeus, but to tell him he would like to dine with him. Can you imagine the happiness of this societal outcast? Zachaeus could not believe that Jesus loved him enough to come to his house! Moreover, Jesus, by doing this, was telling the crowd that he loved even the obvious sinner. Zacchaeus was changed forever, because Jesus took the opportunity to speak to him. Could you change someone’s life by simply taking the time to speak to another woman?

One of the greatest opportunities that any of us can receive is the opportunity to share the Good News with another person. That opportunity can come in a serendipitous moment. It can come when we least expect it. But, whenever that moment comes, we need to be ready and willing to share Christ. Often, the sharing comes about through a developed relationship. But in order to develop a relationship with another woman, we have to seize the opportunity to get to know her, help her, or befriend her. Active Relational Christian Mentoring is a wonderful way to develop a relationship, whether you are teaching, counseling, supporting, coaching, or holding someone accountable for her actions. But in order to engage in ARCM, we have to take the opportunity that God places in our path to actively be there for the other woman. I know that you can do it! You can mentor for the Lord!

Every day that we live is a gift from God.
God has given us the priceless gift of life so that we can glorify and honor Him.
Even though we have failed God in so many sinful ways,
God loves us so much that He sent His only Son,
 Jesus Christ,
to die on a cruel cross to take away our sins.
Christ’s blood cleanses us from all sin.
The Cross was Christ’s opportunity to Save us and bless us.
All we have to do to receive this cleansing blessing
is to take the opportunity given to each of us to call upon Jesus Christ and ask
 Him to come into our life.
In repentance and belief in Christ as the Son of the Living God,
we can have life eternal!
Have you taken the opportunity to ask Christ 
to come into your heart?
Why wait?
Christ is waiting for you!

(Vicky Lynn Thomas)

No comments:

Post a Comment