Claire and I laughed and laughed when we saw this giant ladder on this little Mazda Miata as we were driving on the interstate.  When the engineers at Mazda were designing the Miata, I highly doubt they were thinking, “It can be a utility vehicle to carry around large ladders.” 

Yet many people in life find themselves in a similar predicament.  What they were created for and their current life do not match up at all.  Ephesians 2:10 states, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”  You see God has created each one of us and has given us unique places in time and history and unique gifts to use.  When we are living life according to our own rules and desires we step outside of God’s plan and go out on our own.  How foolish to think we could know better than God what is best for the future.  

So how can we make sure that we do not go through life like a Miata carrying a ladder?

1.  Make sure you truly know God through faith in His Son Jesus.  Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” 

2.  Read the Bible consistently with an open heart and mind.  II Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

3.  Pray daily seeking to grow closer to God. Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” 

4.  Repent of things in your life that you know don’t please God.  Ephesians 4:22-24, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

5.  Be involved in a local church where you have godly fellowship and accountability. Hebrews 10:24-25, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”

6.  Seek Godly counsel.  Proverbs 15:22, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”

7.  Act on what you know is right.  James 1:22-25, Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.”

If you know Jesus and are consistently doing 2-7, I believe you will get on and stay true to the plan God has for you.  Remember in that great exchange we get to give Jesus the unwieldy burdens that we have picked up along the way and only carry what He gives us.  “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

We must come to the realization that unless we are living according to God’s plan, then we cannot fully love Him and love our neighbors as He created us to do.  If your life does not line up with what God created you for, will you give up your plan and take on His?


One of the key elements to a healthy church is love.  In I Thessalonians we see the Apostle Paul, Silas, and Timothy encourage the believers by stating, “may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you” (I Thess 3:12).  Notice that this love has two primary targets.  The first is for those who are in the church family, and the second is for those who are outside of it.

For now, let’s focus on the first group- those within the church.  I’ve come to realize that many of us have a struggle with asking for help.  Many of us think that we can handle whatever our burden is or that we SHOULD be able to handle it; and therefore do not want to “inconvenience” someone else.  Normally this unwillingness to admit we need help has its root in pride.  Are we so arrogant to think that when we first believed in Jesus would be the only time we should have to admit to a need we couldn’t handle on our own? We should understand that sharing our needs is part of being in God’s family – and that there are times both to help and to be helped.  

The need could spiritual, physical, or emotional in nature.  It can also be simple or complex in its solution. So how should we go about asking for help?

1.  Go to Jesus.  “Cast all your cares upon Him for He cares for you”  (I Peter 5:7)

2.  Go to the elders in your church for prayer and council (James 5:13-16).  The elders normally know the right person and resources to assist you.

(If it is a smaller item, step 2 might not be necessary.  You may already know the right person to ask for help.)

On the other side of the equation we can also take note of those who need help and talk to them about it. May God help us to be loving to one another – for His glory and our benefit.

From what we read about the church of the Thessalonians around AD 51-57, it is easy to see why they are referred to as a model church. Here is an outline:

I.  The church is born in adversity (Acts 17:1-10)

II. The church is thriving (I Thessalonians)

III. The church is shaken by false teaching (II Thessalonians)

IV. The church is generous (II Corinthians 8-9)

Obviously this church was not perfect, but they did have many great qualities that we can learn from and apply.  The following sums up their testimony, “The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath” (I Thessalonians 1:8-10).

One item that stands out is the radical change believing in Jesus made in their lives.  Though they were in difficult circumstances, they could not nor did they desire to suppress their joy.  They just had to tell someone about the love of Jesus.  Now that is the sort of joy that should mark the followers of Christ!

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21).

It is a blessing to know that God is able to do far beyond what we think is possible, and He is able to do that through “the power that works us.” (See the previous post for how we access that power and love.) When we are being used for God’s glory, we are part of that great chorus of believers from generations past – all the way back to the beginning – who give praise, honor and love to our King Jesus. God can use you today in your place of work, classroom, ball field, grocery store, neighborhood or half way around the world. Just be open to His tug on your heart for compassion; have your eyes open to the possibilities and to the needs of your neighbor; get past the noise and listen to the clear instruction of our Lord. If we do this consistently, we will be amazed at how God will use little you and little me for wonderful, powerful, and eternal change. It will be far more than we ever thought possible. And that power is even more exponential when a community (a local church) is united together for this purpose. Are you ready for this kind of life?

If you haven’t yet, you may want to read “who is my neighbor” (below) before reading this post. The conclusion was that our neighbor is anyone we have the opportunity and resources to help. This did lead to 2 other questions; the first being, which neighbor do I help? The help we are speaking of here could be that of a physical, emotional, or spiritual nature. We find further instructions in the New Testament, which give us an order to live by.
1. Your family. “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (I Timothy 5:8). It would be a terrible testimony to give your money away and have your own kids without enough food to eat. But it should be noted that “provide for” is very different than “be excessive”.
2. The church. (those in the family of God). “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10).
I believe that following the principal of #1 the needs in your local church would take precedence over those needs outside of your local church. Ideally the leadership in your local church is using the resources given to take care of the needs within the church and follow God’s lead on work outside of itself. In the U.S., in this time of wealth, an increasing percentage of local church resources should be headed outside of itself. However, if the local church you are a part of is self-centered, wasteful, and materialistic then you may need to take more initiative to encourage the leadership to do well, and if that fails then to designate what your giving is used for.
3. The poor. Throughout the Old and New Testament we see God’s heart for the poor and the responsibility he puts on us to look after their needs. It is also consistent that along with taking care of physical needs a priority is placed on the spiritual needs (Luke 4:18, Luke 12:32-34). It is best to support the work of the poor by those who are followers of Jesus, who along with taking care of the immediate are also providing hope and opportunity for their eternal well-being. Now there are organizations that do good things but not for Jesus. There are plenty of people who aren’t Christians who can give to those organizations – so let them do that.
4. Other people that God puts in your path. Again as Galatians 6:10 states “Therefore, as we have opportunity let us do good to all.” So depending on their type of need each person we are in contact with is a possible recipient of God’s love and grace working through us.

Having biblical priorities helps us use our limited resources most effectively and keeps us from giving to things that don’t have a God centered impact.