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Editorial: Practical spirituality

Pavel Goia

 

A few years ago, I went to Cuba for mission work. In the evenings we held meetings. We provided transportation and a full children’s program. One lady brought an average of 150 children to the kids’ program every night. And they knew many songs and Bible stories. I asked her how she got so many children to come to the meetings. “There is no greater call and privilege,” she said, “than to love Jesus and His children.”

“And how do you know that you love Jesus and people?” I asked.

She continued, “You make your relationship with Jesus a priority and serve Him by serving people. I ask Him to wake me up every morning to spend time with Him before the day starts, and He does it. The more time I spend with Him, the more I desire to know Him.”

Speaking with her made me think of the Bible verse, “He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple” (Isa. 50:4, AMP). It is crucial to have information and understanding, yet no doctrine has power in itself unless it is lived and applied. We should be not only listeners but doers. When Jesus comes, He will not say that you had great knowledge and understanding; rather, He will refer to our living the knowledgewe have. And to those that did not live accordingly He will say, “I don’t know you.” Ultimately, it is a matter of having a healthy, real, relationship with God and others.

So, back to the lady. She continued, “You cannot really love people while focusing continually on your own life. Jesus was never self-centered. He loved people, so He focused on them and served them. How long do you pray and how much time do you invest in others? It is easy to say ‘I love God and people,’ but the test is to prove your words. Pray that God gives you a passion for people, and then invest in them. God will give you opportunities to serve them.”

The lady invited me to visit her. The next day the local pastor and I went to her home. She lived in a one-room house with a small dirt yard. A little before two o’clock in the afternoon, a large crowd of children started to come from the neighborhood. She had them sit in the yard and then asked for their signed papers. She explained, “I teach them Bible stories and songs. The children have to prove they pay attention by telling their parents the story they learned that day, then the parents sign the paper. This way I also make sure their parents learn about Jesus.”

After the kids indicated they had told the story to their parents, they sat down and the lady gave them rice. She clarified, “I have no money to buy more than rice for so many. Most parents have no job or are very poor and cannot supply plain food. I have a job; I make fourteen dollars a month.” With a face full of joy, she exclaimed. “I have a job! I am so blessed. I have food, they don’t. There is no greater blessing than to see them happy.”

Yes, I said to myself, it is better to bless than to be blessed. We are called to be blessings to the world around, not to seek blessings for self. That’s the greatest blessing we can ever experience.

So, I said to her, “How can I help you in your ministry?”

She replied, “I need nothing, I am happy and blessed.” I offered her what I had, and with eyes wide open she said, “I cannot take it. God always provides; I know that. I know Him and have seen Him working.”

How do you show your love to God?

Seek Him and His presence before anything else, spend time with Him in prayer and in the study of His Word. The more you know Him, the more you trust Him and want to know Him even more. Make Him a priority.

How do you show your love to people?

Pray that God would give you a passion for people, and then invest in people, pray for them, spend time listening and caring, serve their needs. The more you do that, the more you become a blessing. How can we tell people about Jesus unless we show them Jesus?

The year 2018 is special. God willing, it will see the 100th birthday celebration of one of history’s greatest evangelists, Dr. Billy Graham (see “Dateline,” p. 28). The year 2018 also marks the 90th anniversary of the unbroken, monthly publication of our journal for pastors. To God be the glory.

For 90 years, Ministry has maintained its commitment to deepen spiritual life, develop intellectual strength, and increase pastoral and evangelistic effectiveness, and throughout 2018, we will share vignettes from the earliest days of Ministry.

As you “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” may this New Year’s issue be a blessing to you and a tool to support your leadership and service for God.

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