In today’s episode, I’d like to talk about making a commitment to do more acts of kindness and service going into this new year. I’ll touch on biblical foundations for acts of kindness, I want to tell you a story of an act of kindness I experienced, and then we’ll go into how we become agents of hope and practical ways to serve.

References to Bible Verses:

Luke 10:30-37; Ephesians 4:32; Galatians 5:22; Ruth 1:16-17; Matthew 25:40; Galatians 5:13; Matthew 25:35-40; Galatians 6:9; Proverbs 16:24; 1 Peter 4:10; Mark 10:45; James 1:5; James 1:19; Titus 2:7; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

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Jason: Hello and welcome to the My Ministry Mission podcast. My name is Jason and I am your host. If you watch the news, you're going to be bombarded with political angst, examples of violence and cruelty, and headlines like, "Police Identify" or "Woman Arrested" or "Man Charged With." In fact, if you want to read good news, you really have to go out of your way to find it.

We are on the cusp of a new year, so I'd like you to think about and consider all you've done over the last 12 months, and I have a question for you. After reflecting on your year, how much of your time was spent in service? And how much of your time was spent in biblical studies and worship? Now, I did this exercise myself, and to be perfectly honest, the answer for me was not nearly enough.

So in today's episode, I'd like to talk about making a commitment to do more acts of kindness and service going into this new year. I'll touch on biblical foundations for acts of kindness. I want to tell you a story of an act of kindness I experienced. And then we'll go into how we become agents of hope and practical ways to serve.

Let's take this journey together, and when we're done, I have a challenge for you.

The Bible is filled with a treasure trove of narratives illustrating the profound importance and nature of kindness and the transformative power of service. These timeless tales echo throughout the ages, imparting wisdom and inspiring hearts to embrace the core values intrinsic to the Christian faith.

One of these stories of kindness comes from the Gospel of Luke. where Jesus shares the parable of the Good Samaritan. It's Luke 10:30-35. Now, after being challenged by an expert of the Jewish law to explain how one inherits eternal life, Jesus shares this story with him. "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came to where the man was, and when he saw him he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey and brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave it to the innkeeper. Look after him, he said, and when I return I will reimburse you for any extra expenses you may have."

So in this story, a traveler fell victim to robbers, and he was left wounded and abandoned on the side of the road. Two esteemed religious figures passed by, a priest and a Levite. Now their hearts remained unmoved and their actions were absent any compassion. It could have been because they thought it was too dangerous to stop. Maybe they thought they were going to the temple to worship and that was more important. Maybe they were worried if they touched the man, they risked being unclean because of it. Regardless, being religious leaders, they are the ones we would imagine would be the most spiritually obligated to stop and render aid, right?

However, it was a Samaritan, a person traditionally looked down upon by the Jews who stopped and showed mercy and extended tangible aid. His selfless act of binding wounds, providing shelter, offering care, exemplified a love that transcends societal barriers and embodies the essence of kindness. This seemed like an unlikely thing because Jews and Samaritans didn't like each other. So this was probably a bit of a shock to the listeners. I mean, plot twist, right?

Jesus goes on to pose a question in Luke 10:36, "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell in the hands of the robbers?" Now the answer to this, of course, is the Samaritan. But this legal expert couldn't bring himself to say that word. So he answered in Luke 10:37, "The one who had mercy on him." So Jesus went on to tell the man this legal expert, "Go and do likewise."

The Apostle Paul in his letter to Ephesians implored believers to "be kind and compassionate to one another Forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you" Ephesians 4:32. Now this directive resonates emphasizing the important role kindness plays in the interactions among believers with the broader community. It's a call to mirror God's boundless grace and love in our dealings with others.

The Book of Galatians further illustrates this point, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness" Galatians 5:22. This verse underscores that genuine kindness isn't merely a humanly cultivated trait, but a manifestation of the Spirit's work within, bearing fruit that enriches the lives of those who embody it.

The Old Testament is rich with narratives that emphasize the significance of service rooted in kindness. The account of Ruth's unwavering commitment to her mother in law, Naomi, is, I mean, it's one of my favorite books in the Old Testament. It's an amazing show of loyalty and service. When Ruth tells Naomi, "Don't urge me to leave you or turn back from you. Where you go, I go. Where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people, your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me." Wow. Ruth 1:16-17. If that doesn't tug at your heartstrings, I don't know what will.

This resonates as a testament to selfless devotion and sacrificial service. We are called to mirror the compassion and sacrificial love demonstrated by Christ that is exemplified throughout Scripture. They serve as a compass, guiding us to extend kindness beyond our comfort zone and to serve others selflessly, embodying the very essence of the Christian faith.

Remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:40, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." Hold that verse in your mind because I'm going to come back to it later. But as I continue through this episode, let these words etch themselves into your hearts. Let them become guiding lights that propel you towards acts of kindness and service, echoing the teachings of Christ in your actions, towards your fellow man.

I want to tell you a story of my daughter, a story where my own child's sacrifice and service humbled me. This happened a few years back when she was a little younger and I was younger in my faith. But it's a model of kindness that is rooted deep in her soul.

I went to the grocery store with her, we went shopping. We did our normal thing, bought a bunch of groceries, but when I finished our shopping, I didn't feel like cooking. So we went to the deli and grab some food to bring home. Picked up some chicken, wedge fries, mac and cheese, you know, the staples.

But my kiddo had something else in mind. She really wanted sushi. I mean, she really wanted sushi. Now, I'm not a fan, but I was willing to indulge her, so I let her pick out one of these small sushi platters. So we finish grabbing our meal, and we're headed out the door. And as we're walking to the car, this white SUV pulls up next to us, rolls down their window, and I notice it appears that there's a mom and a couple of kids in the car.

She looks at us and asks for some help. Now, she didn't ask for money. She wanted to know if we had any extra food that we could spare. Now this is where my little one put me to shame. Without a moment of contemplation, without any hesitation, she took her sushi platter, this platter that she really wanted, and handed it over to the mother without a single thought.

It took my brain a moment to catch up. I couldn't help but smile, and I just handed the woman the rest of our meal for the night. Guess I was cooking after all. It took my child of maybe 10 years old to teach me about the love Christ had for us and for all mankind. It took a child's heart to teach me how to show grace and kindness to a mother with hungry children. To start understanding what service looked like. God used my daughter to help me understand Him more.

From that moment forward, I have sought opportunities to serve others. And now I do this through my church because I know they have established rules and processes and requirements and safety protocols plus going through my church I can be part of a community who can serve and help others more than I could ever do on my own Apostle Paul reminds us in Galatians 5:13, "You my brothers and sisters were called to be free But do not use your freedom to indulge flesh rather serve one another humbly in love,"

Jesus set us free from the bondage of our sin. We have been liberated Now, from the outside looking in, non believers see us as being bound to these oppressive rules and regulations, right? But you and I know different. We should know different. We are free. Now, this liberty we have inherited could be used as an opportunity for the flesh to go out and sin as we please. But Paul is urging us to instead use that freedom to serve others and conquer the flesh.

I would love to hear your own stories, if you have them, services that you have offered to others or that you've observed. Feel free to email me, Tell me your stories or go to my website and send me a message. I would love to hear any stories that you have.

Now, the call to becoming an agent of service runs deeply. So get out there and spread hope through practical acts of service. Now, I already mentioned a way that you can go through your local church. You see, my church does all kinds of community service, including backpack drives for less fortunate kids going back to school. We collect Thanksgiving box, meals. We partner with local non profits to hand out food and, and go out in the park and feed homeless. A few times a year we'll get a large group together and we'll go out in the community to, to do service. You know, cleaning up yards, painting schools, building garden boxes, and so on.

Now if your church doesn't have any of these programs, maybe you can help organize one. But service is a powerful way to honor Jesus. He tells us as much in Matthew 25:35-40. I know I've already read this. I told you I'd come back to this verse. "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. Then the righteous will answer him, Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you as a stranger and invite you in? Or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go visit you? The king replied, truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."

Look, there are a number of organizations out there. If your church isn't able to be out there the same way, look to local shelters, go to food drives, search for outreach initiatives that echo the teachings of Christ. Maybe coach a youth sport, volunteer to read to children, or visit the elderly, or offer to be a witness to prisoners. The Apostle Paul urges Galatians in Galatians 6:9 to "not become weary of doing good" and reminds us that in due season we will reap the harvest of hope if we don't give up.

But your service doesn't have to be extravagant or big. Proverbs 16:24 reminds us of the simple things we can do every day in service. It reads, "Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." Simple acts of kindness, a word of encouragement, a gesture of empathy, a simple smile can brighten someone's day and infuse hope into their lives.

When you're at the grocery store, smile at the cashier and compliment her on a pretty necklace. She wore it for a reason. Say hello to a stranger. Tell a mother and a father that they have a beautiful child. Give little bits of God's light to your brothers and sisters of this world.

We are all given gifts from the Father. And the Apostle Peter urges believers in his letter 1 Peter 4:10, "Each of you should use whatever gifts you have received to serve others as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms." Sharing your gift with others, the point in having it, use it to serve and be faithful stewards of God's grace in whatever form you can. You never know just how you might be spreading the seed of hope that may blossom into a brighter future for someone.

Service was good enough for Jesus, so it's good enough for us. Mark 10:45 reminds us "for even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many." embody the selfless spirit of Christ and become a catalyst for positive change, igniting hope in the world that's yearning for compassion and grace.

At the beginning of this episode, I mentioned a challenge for you and me and here it is. I've never been a big fan of New Year's resolutions. In fact, I used to joke that I made a New Year's resolution to never make another one, and it's the first one I kept.

But I think we just need to be more intentional and less reactive when it comes to identifying resolutions. Make your New Year's resolution, go ahead and write them down, and then go find a Bible verse to back it up.

So what do I mean by this? Well, maybe your goal is to pray more for guidance, and you, you support that with James 1:5. "If any of you lacks wisdom, You should ask God, who gives generously to all, without finding fault, and it will be given to you."

Maybe one of your goals is to be more patient and less temperamental, and you back that one up by one of my favorites, James 1:19, "My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this. Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry."

Maybe you have children and you want to be a better role model as a parent. Well, in that case, let's look at Titus 2:7, "And everything set an example by doing what is good. In your teaching, show integrity, seriousness."

How about that infamous weight loss goal? If you're looking to lose weight and feel better in 2024, then make that resolution to take better care of yourself overall. And you can back that one up with 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own. You were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies."

Do you see where I'm going with this? Make your resolutions rooted in biblical scripture. Find a verse that legitimately backs up what you want out of the new year. And make sure you write it down and put it somewhere. You'll see it every single day in the coming year. A while back, I bought these 4 inch by 4 inch dry erase magnets. They're these fun little post it note kind of things for your refrigerator. Now, I like to write down Bible verses on them and put them on my fridge so that I can see them every day. And I make it a point to read them every day, not just glance at them in passing. Maybe that would be a fun way for you to, to write them down, to, to put them out there. I also like to write notes to myself and Bible verses on my bathroom mirror with dry erase markers. Find a way to display your goals and resolutions and make a commitment to read them every single day.

So now you have your resolutions, you back them up with scripture. I would say at the beginning of every month, set a reminder. At the beginning of every month, rewrite your goals. Erase what you have and write it again with the biblical verse. Make a commitment every month to continue working on your God approved resolutions and keep them fresh. Keep them active.

So these are just some ideas. This is my challenge for you. I'm challenging myself to do the same. So let's start with God and see where this new year takes us.

Alright, that's the episode for today. Thank you for joining me for another episode of the My Ministry Mission podcast. I hope this was helpful and inspirational.

Going into a new year always fills me with a sense of nostalgia and excitement. I like to reflect on the year that is coming to a close and then imagine what the new year will bring. Now this time of year, it's always bittersweet for me because of that.

But don't let another year just slide by, be intentional. Take ownership of your life this year. Ask Jesus to help guide your purpose in this year and ask him to guide you to the people, places, and lessons that you need to encounter to become more spiritually mature and to grow this year. It's a scary thought because when you challenge God to improve you, he absolutely will and it won't be easy. But it will be worth it. It will absolutely be worth it.

So one quick announcement, I'm going to take a short break from podcasting just to get through the rest of the new year and into 2024, please subscribe to my podcast and your favorite app to make sure you don't miss anything when, when this all comes back and returns.

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All of this info is in my show notes, so go click some links. Until next time, remember to read your Bible, be kind to each other, and may the Lord bless you and keep you. God bless everyone and Happy New Year.