This is one of the Discipleship Trainings.
Practical experiences speak a lot more than theoretical learning. Jesus always took his disciples through many life-giving experiences. This is one among those. This happened within the synagogue. Nothing can slip away from His eyes. Jesus was at the temple with the disciples. Here he witnessed something which he used to teach the disciples about giving. He sat across from the treasury of the temple and watched many rich people put in large sums of money. Then a poor widow came along and put in two small copper coins. Jesus teaches the disciples that the woman gave more than the rich. The poor woman, as a widow, would have had no source of income after her husband’s death. Therefore the two small copper coins were all she had - and yet she offered them to God. The rich, on the other hand, had a lot of money to spare. So what they offered to God was just loose change, money they did not depend on.
This is one of the roles and natures of Christian discipleship. It should not come under compulsion. It should come voluntarily, willingly and with eagerness. We need to know for what cause we are giving before we give. If the offering is for the Church and its growth, the giving makes us a partner of His kingdom work. If the offering is supporting other Christian organizations, we are indirectly serving Him through this way. We see different churches display this message ‘for giving donations, contact…’ at the upfront before the service begins. In general, people of the world have this opinion that Christians run their churches for their benefits. Our God is a Sovereign God and He can provide from nothing. He can kindle hearts and do unimaginable things. At the same time, I agree it is the church leadership team’s responsibility to let the congregation know the church’s current finance situation and its need. It is up to the congregation to decide and increase their giving or giving if not giving. Our church treasurer will be in touch with you regarding this.
Jesus is teaching the disciples that it is not the amount of money given that is important, but rather the sacrifice made in the offering.
How adaptive are we?
I would say Ashurst is extremely good in adapting to changes. We have learnt through this pandemic how to fit ourselves to the changes that have happened for the past a year and a half. We have proved our covenantal relationship with God, with fellow believers and with the church. A great thing to notice and appreciate is that we are all staying together in God’s love and unity. None of the effects of the pandemic in closing and opening the church have disrupted our faith. We can congratulate ourselves for our faithful and committed life to Christ.
This is a kind of persecution we are facing together. Let us be strong and stay closer to God at such a time like this. Rules may be posted on limited church attendance, not allowing us to open our mouth for singing. These cannot bring any hindrances for our gathering. We have learnt to sing quietly and soulfully. We have trained to build the bridge while we cross through the stream. In the time given, we have learnt to be effective in giving pastoral care to one another. This is an evidence for the Baptists to be called as the ‘priesthood of all believers’.
Our eyes are fixed on Jesus. We may be surrounded with storms, but that cannot distract our focus on Him. Let us pray that Ashurst stands as a firm foundation on truth. Let us continue doing our good deeds and spur one another with God’s love. Let us encourage one another to stand firm against the war that we are in now. Let us wear the armour of God and be the soldiers of Christ. Let us remember that we are living in an ‘enemy-occupied territory’, so be aware of the potential distractions or temptations that might potentially hinder our spiritual growth. Let us be faithful, available and teachable so that we can become a more effective disciple of Jesus Christ.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds - Psalm 147:3
Let us comfort those who mourn!
The world still has not come out of the pandemic yet. When the number of cases are decreasing and reaching almost zero in the England, we hear the terrific devastation in countries like India, Indonesia, Brazil, Turkey, etc. due to Covid. Many of our church families have loved ones in India and this is shaking us here. How can we comfort the families who lost their loved ones? What words of comfort can be shared with those who are hospitalized and struggling for oxygen intake? How can the families here be encouraged?
When this pandemic is travelling on one side, we hear about the Israel-Palestinian airstrikes. About 240 people lost their lives. The people in both the nations are living in darkness expecting when the next bomb will fall down. Where is God’s love? Why is there hatred between people? Whatever the reason, can’t people forgive one another? When will there be reconciliation? We receive peace recently with the countries coming together for a common agreement of not striking each other over the Gaza strip. Can we expect this decision to be sustained?
In all these difficulties, we forgot about the persecution in Nigeria. International Christian Concern said that according to the rights group Intersociety Rule of Law, 1,470 Christians were murdered and over 2,200 were abducted by jihadists in the first four months of 2021. Where is it heading to? The lives no longer have value. People do whatever they prefer. When will this come to an end? They are persecuted because they belong to Christ.
What should we do? How can we comfort those who mourn? As children of God, we should intercede for these people in their sufferings. We pray for God to move the mountains in their lives. We support them financially and in whatever way we can. Let us ask God to melt our hearts. Let us ask God to pour down His love in us so as to share it with others. Let our hearts cry for the suffering.