Store crowns (rewards) for your eternal life in Heaven!
This ministry of love may be YOUR opportunity to spread the love of God to others on earth, while laying up treasures (“crowns”) for yourself in Heaven...

INTRODUCTION: This ministry— suitable for an individual person, a family, a Bible study group, or a church— puts into action the teachings of Jesus and the Apostle Paul about the Bema Judgment (also called the “Judgment Seat of the Christ”). All Christians (Believers in/ Followers of Jesus the Messiah) will face this judgment. This Website describes some ways members of faith communities of all ages may find opportunities to serve their neighbors in an anonymous, unheralded manner, while spreading the Gospel in a practical manner most appreciated by persons in need.

SCRIPTURAL BASIS FOR LOVE: There is abundant Scriptural basis for LOVE, including:

Following the Master: Jesus gave a simple invitation to those who would follow Him (Matthew 16:24, our underlining): Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” We can follow Jesus by attempting to act as He would act. Jesus gave two tests by which His true followers may be recognized:
• (Matthew 7:20): “... by their fruits you will know them.” “Their fruits” is another ways of stating “their deeds... their works... their actions.”
• (John 13:35): “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
• (1 John 3:14, 16-18): We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. [...] By this we know love, because [Jesus] laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? ... [L]et us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.

NOTE: A person can be known as a Christian— a follower of the Christ— by passing two tests: (1) Does he/ she bear fruits for the Kingdom of God? (2) Does he/ she exhibit love for others? Joining a church, reciting creeds, wearing religious costumes/ symbols, and other outward signs of “Christianity” are not the mark of a Christ-follower. Rather, service and love for others are the two marks that distinguish a Christian. These goals form the essence of Bema Judgment preparation.

Jesus' three commandments: Jesus gave His followers three commandments, contained in two passages:
• (Mark 12:28-31): Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that Jesus had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?” Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
• (John 13:34): [Jesus said] “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”

Jesus' commandments are based on love. Without love, you cannot follow Jesus. In fact, the Bible is the greatest love story ever written. This love story asks only that you love God and others, as a small remembrance of the unfathomable love He has showered upon you.

SCRIPTURAL BASIS FOR JUDGMENT: All persons will be judged (Hebrews 9:27): ... it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,.... Persons eventually admitted to New Jerusalem (Heaven) will face the Bema Judgment. Persons eventually cast into the Lake of Fire (Hell) will face the Great White Throne Judgment.

GO TO: JUDGMENTS (contrast of the two end-time judgments).

SCRIPTURAL BASIS FOR A BEMA JUDGMENT: The apostle Paul and Jesus taught about judgment for the saints [saint = a person admitted to afterlife in New Jerusalem (Heaven)]. These teaching may be summarized as follows:

Paul compared sporting events to spiritual life in several passages, including the Bema Judgment. A judge at a race sat at the finish line on a raised platform, called a bema in Greek, to determine the order of the contestants' finish. Prizes were awarded, according to the order of finish [compare: rewards for how well a Believer finishes his/ her race in life], not whether the athlete actually finished the race [consider: every athlete crossing the line finished the race, just as every person appearing before the Divine Judge Jesus has secured entry into Heaven by having his/ her name inscribed in the Lamb's Book of Life.]

Paul wrote:
• (Romans 14:10c, 12): ... For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. |...| So then each of us shall give an account of himself to God.
• (2 Corinthians 5:10): For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
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“Judgment seat” comes from the Greek βημα (pronounced BAY-mah), transliterated to the English bema (pronounced BEE-mah).

Life's works (deeds, speech, actions) will be judged. As Jesus' followers grew in number, His disciples asked how they would know their fellow Believers. Jesus gave a simple test to recognize a true follower (several Scriptures, including Matthew 7:16-17, 20): “You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? ... [E]very good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. |...| Therefore by their fruits, you will know them.”

What fruits may a Believer (Christian) bear? Paul taught that only fruit built upon Jesus can be acceptable (1 Corinthians 3:11-15): For on no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become manifest; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss, but he will be saved, yet so as through fire.

• Your acceptable work must be built upon Jesus' atoning sacrifice for sin, and cannot be built as a standalone project of self-aggrandizing piety.
• Through your works, you may bring different “building materials” to Jesus' foundation— GOOD materials (gold, silver, precious stones in Paul's teaching) or BAD/ NO materials (wood, hay, straw in Paul's teaching).
• “The Day” refers to your Judgment Day. As you kneel before Jesus, your Divine Judge, your life's works— good, bad, or non-existent— will be reviewed. Jesus promised a relevant feature of His return (Revelation 22:12): [Jesus said] “And behold... My reward is with Me, to give to everyone according to his work.” At the moment Jesus returns or at the moment of your death, all Christ-honoring labor ceases and your judgment is sealed.
• For ease of understanding, we can paraphrase and amplify one part of Paul's writing, “If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss, but he will be saved...” to: “If anyone's life's works are found unacceptable and burned to ashes, he will suffer shame and regret that he has not been more productive for the Kingdom, but he is still saved from the second death because his name has been inscribed in the Lamb's Book of Life.” Paul was careful to separate salvation and the Bema Judgment. Salvation depends upon a personal commitment to Jesus the Christ as Lord and Savior (faith). Bema Judgment rewards depend upon working for the Master (faith-based works). Extending Paul's analogy of a race, a slow, stumbling racer who crosses the finish line is credited with completing the race, but he is not awarded a prize, because prizes go to the racers who trained harder and ran faster.
• Why are both good and bad works subjected to the fire of judgment? All works will be tested by fire to determine suitability for making a crown. Even good works (gold, silver, precious stones) may have some degree of impurities (pride, competition, desire for others' acclaim, and so forth), and these impurities will be burned away at the Judgment, just as dross (impurity in metal) is removed by a metalworker from precious metals by melting (placing in fire). Once cleaned by Jesus, pure works can make a crown suitable to praise God in all three Persons. Bad works (wood, hay, straw) will be reduced to ashes. A crown cannot be made from ashes.
• What is the fire by which your works are judged? The Bible does not definitively answer this question, but a hint may be found in Jesus' appearance at the end of the Age of Grace (Revelation 19:12a): [Jesus'] eyes were like a flame of fire.... Could it be that this “fire” will melt (purify) good works or burn (destroy) bad, non-existent works, as Jesus evaluates each person's works?

What rewards may you receive? At least one reward— and possibly five rewards— may be given at the Bema Judgment:

Reward 1. Crowns: The Bible describes nine awards (“crowns”) you may receive, although other “crowns” could also be available. The nine described “crowns” are:
• Crown of Rejoicing for Soul Winners (see 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20)
• Crown of Righteousness for Those Who Love Jesus' return (see 2 Timothy 4:8)
• Incorruptible Crown for Victorious Lives of Purity (see 1 Corinthians 9:25, 27)
• Crown of Life for Christian Martyrs (see Revelation 2:10)
• Crown of Life for Faithful Servants (see 1 Peter 5:4)
• Crown of Life for Endurance of Temptations for the Love of Jesus (see James 1:12)
• Crown of Joy for Converts (see Philippians 4:1)
• Crown for Faithful Perseverance (see Revelation 3:11)
• Elder's Crown (see Revelation 4:4, 10)

The Bible implies you may lay your crown(s) before the throne of God (Revelation 4:10): ... the twenty-four elders... cast their crowns before the throne [of Him who lives forever].... Why? When you enter eternity, you will have no money or possessions. The only thing you will own will be your crown(s) awarded at your Judgment. Your crowns represent how much you loved God, how faithfully you tried to follow Jesus, and how much you worked for God's Kingdom during your earthly life. Your only acceptable gift and the only gift worthy to be presented is how you lived your life. God owns the Universe. The only thing you own exclusively is your free will. God will never take your free will from you. You may praise God or curse Him, through exercise of your free will. You can earn— or not earn— crowns, depending on how you choose to use your free will. Laying crowns before the throne of God reflects whether you used your free will obediently or disobediently.

Reward 2. Bridal gown preparation: The Bible teaches that every saint in Heaven will be married to Bridegroom Jesus (see Revelation 19:7-8 and Ephesians 5:27-29). Just as today's bride may spend much time choosing “the perfect” bridal gown, you will want to be properly attired when you marry Jesus. You adorn your bridal gown now through your works (Revelation 19:8, our underlining): And to [Jesus' bride— the Church] it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

Reward 3. Service in the Millennial Kingdom: After Jesus' return to earth (His Second Coming), He will establish a one-thousand year reign, prior to the descent of New Jerusalem (Heaven) to earth. In addition to Jesus, this kingdom will be inhabited by angels, saints (resurrected/ raptured Believers), and humans. Humans are the “sheep” in Jesus' Parable of the Sheep and Goats (see Matthew 25:31-46). Angels and saints with glorified bodies will not reproduce, but the “sheep” will. The earth will be filled with many humans. It will be a responsibility of the angels and saints to mentor (teach) the humans about God's ways and to prepare them to resist the final temptation of Satan (the second Gog and Magog rebellion— see Revelation 20:7-9). Faithful service on earth will translate into greater service opportunities in the Millennial Kingdom. Jesus taught parables about this Millennial service. For example: See Matthew 25:29a: [Jesus said] “For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have in abundance;....” And Luke 19:26: [Jesus said] “... to everyone who has will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.” Read carefully Jesus' parables:
• The Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13): A virgin in this parable symbolizes a Believer— one betrothed to Bridegroom Jesus while He is away at His Father's house. Only wise virgins (those actively involved in the Master's work) will travel with the Bridegroom to the marriage, but foolish virgins (those too lazy to be involved with the Master's work) will be left behind. Jesus warned at the conclusion of this parable (Matthew 25:13): “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”
• The Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30): A talent (unit of money) in this parable symbolizes the spiritual gifts, indwelling of God within each person, the Paraclete (Holy Spirit) walking beside each Believer, the Word of God available for each person, the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, and the boundless opportunities for service given to each person. In the parable, a man [Jesus] traveled to a far country [Heaven, to prepare a place for His bride]. Before leaving, the man gave his servants different amounts of money [just as Believers have different abilities and opportunities]. When the man returned [Jesus' appearance in the clouds to call His followers home], he demanded an accounting [Bema Judgment] of the “money” (gifts and opportunities) left with the servants. Industrious, faithful servants reported an increase in the money entrusted to them; lazy, unfaithful servants hid their money and had no return. Work was rewarded; lack of work was punished.
• The Parable of the Minas (Luke 19:11-27): Both a mina and a talent are units of money, and this parable is similar to the Parable of the Talents, with an exception. In this parable, Jesus mentioned authority over cities. Is this statement a hint that greater Millennial Kingdom responsibilities will be given to those who have worked harder for God's earthly Kingdom? Is the present life an “audition” for future life?

Reward 4. Praise from Jesus: In the Parable of the Minas, the master [symbolic of Jesus] praised the profitable servant (Luke 19:17a): “Well done, good servant.” The most appreciated, precious, glorious words you may hear throughout eternity could be at your Bema Judgment, if Jesus would smile at you and say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” At that moment, your life will be affirmed as having great blessing for Jesus and your neighbors. A well known proverb applies here: “Your life is your gift from God; what you do with your life is your gift back to God.”

Reward 5. Better appreciation of Heaven: This “reward” has no Scriptural basis. Could it be, though, that a person who has worked hardest and has overcome the most trials will better appreciate the grandeur of Heaven than will the slackard who has done little for God?

How do you prepare for your Bema Judgment? Your work for God's Kingdom need not be grandiose. In Jesus' parables, previously discussed, note that the master gave his servants different amounts of money (talents, minas), just as God gives His children different gifts and opportunities. Servants with smaller gifts were fully appreciated, if they worked hard to use what they had been given, just as you should take your gifts and opportunities, whether great or small, and do the best you can. God has known and loved you, even before you were nestled in your mother's womb (see Genesis 25:22-23a; Psalm 139:13-16; Jeremiah 1:4-5a; Isaiah 49:1b, 5a; Matthew 1:18b, 22-23; Luke 1:36, 44; 2:21; Romans 9:11). Jesus taught about the value of even the smallest accomplishments, if best efforts are given, in His teaching of the widow's mites (see Luke 21:1-4). In this teaching, rich men publicly, boastfully, pridefully made large gifts to the Temple treasury, but a poor widow quietly, humbly gave her two small coins. Jesus said (Luke 21:3-4): “Truly I say to you that the poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty has put in all the livelihood that she had.” It is the intent of the heart, not the size of the gift or deed, that matters most to God (Mark 9:41): [Jesus said] “For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ,... he will by no means lose his reward.” The size of a person's heart means more to God, than the size of his/ her wallet.

Act in Jesus' name as quietly as possible, seeking service to God but not recognition for your achievements (1 Samuel 16:7): [The LORD said] “For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” In Jesus' model prayer (see Matthew 6:5-15), Jesus condemned the Pharisees who are hypocrites [hypocrite = actor], and pray long prayers to impress men, not to speak to God (Matthew 6:5-6, our underlining): [Jesus instructed] “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” Jesus also instructed (Matthew 6:1-4, our underlining): “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.”

Be greedy! Jesus always told His followers to avoid greed, except in one instance (Matthew 6:19-21, our underlining): “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” You cannot purchase eternal treasures, no matter how rich you are, but you can lay up (store) such treasures by working for God and because of love for others.

Faith? Works? Believers/ Christians have needlessly debated whether faith or works is more important. Both are important— just in different ways.
• By God's grace and your faith, you can be saved from the second death (eternal death of the soul) to gain eternal life in Heaven (see Ephesians 2:8 and other Scriptures). By faith, your name can be inscribed in the Lamb's Book of Life.
• But, your works (deeds) are almost as important, because you, as a saved person, should strive to manifest good works. As Jesus said, your signal to the world that you are His follower is shown by the “fruit” you bear. Read the short Epistle of James. James eloquently explained the relationship between faith and works. One of his passages concluded (James 2:24, 26): You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. |...| For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

Earlier in this same chapter, James showed the absurdity of giving lip service to faith, without concretely acting on that faith (James 2:14-18, 20): What does it profit, my brethren, if someone has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them [sic], “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them [sic] the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. |...| But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?

Your neighbors (people in your community) may have more needs than just being cold or hungry (as in James' example). They may need the warmth of human kindness, assistance with simple chores, relief from the tedium of loneliness and despair, and hunger for the Gospel of Jesus the Christ. You may be the only Christian they know— certainly the only Christian who will take interest in them. Your deeds of kindness may mean more than you can imagine. Your deeds of kindness may be the most meaningful evangelical “sermon” they will ever hear.

Jesus taught that when we minister to those in need, we also minister to Him (read Matthew 25:34-46, mostly here summarized because of its length, but verses 42-46 are reproduced): The King [Jesus] will judge the people. He will praise those who helped their neighbors. To the others, though, He will say: “‘... for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ [Then they will say] ... ‘Lord, when did we see you [in the needs Jesus mentioned]?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Jesus' brothers and sisters are “the least” among us— Jesus' brethren. The homeless man is Jesus. The widow in lonely despair is Jesus. The single mom in need of encouragement is Jesus. The frightened pregnant teenager is Jesus. The elderly man crippled with arthritis is Jesus. The jail inmate is Jesus. The abused wife or child is Jesus. When you help (or do not help) “the least” among us, you help (or do not help) Jesus.

URGENCY TO ACT NOW: Preparation for your future should begin NOW. Consider these Scriptures:
• (Revelation 22:20): [Jesus said] “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.” When Jesus returns (at the Rapture) or at your death, you can no longer “lay up treasures in Heaven.” Your works to be evaluated at your Bema Judgment are forever sealed. No additional works can be credited to you.
• (Mark 13:35a): [Jesus said] “Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house [symbolic of Jesus] is coming [returning to call His Church home]....” Throughout the history of Christianity, the doctrine of imminent return is stressed. Jesus will return (unexpected, as a thief in the night). With no advance warning, every person must be prepared at any moment to meet Jesus.
• (John 9:4b): [Jesus said] “... the night is coming when no one can work.” Jesus again emphasized the same warning. A Christian may work “during the day” (while there is life... and opportunities). But, when “the night comes” (after Jesus' return or after death), no future good works can be performed.

A SCRIPTURE-BASED GUARANTEE: Few things in the practice of faith carry a guarantee. If you participate in the activities described in this Website, we confidently offer you a guarantee. Based on Biblical teachings and examples, we guarantee that your participation in this ministry should:
• Help persons in your community;
• Make you feel better about yourself;
• Make you feel even happier and more blessed than the person(s) you help;
• Help you grow spiritually as a Believer/ Christian; and
• Lay up “treasures in Heaven” to be awarded at your Bema Judgment.

Paul taught us (Acts 20:35b): “And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

When you work to develop a servant's heart, you are drawn much closer to the heart of the Suffering Servant, Jesus the Christ. When you serve a neighbor, you serve Jesus. You may appreciate the gratitude of the neighbor you help, but you will cherish even more the gratitude of Jesus at your Bema Judgment!

SUGGESTED ACTIVITIES TO PREPARE FOR BEMA JUDGMENT: Please join others in seeking your neighbors through service in love in Jesus' name.

RECOMMENDED GUIDELINES: Please consider and observe certain guidelines (explained more fully in the preceding text):
• Be ever mindful of ways you can demonstrate your love for God and your neighbors through good deeds, no matter how small such deeds may seem.
• Perform your deeds as anonymously as possible. You will, of course, need to identify yourself to the person(s) you seek to help and the reason you offer help. If married, you should involve your spouse. Jesus clearly set the parameters for service to others (Matthew 23:1-12, including verse 12): [Jesus said] “And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Scribes and Pharisees received the acclaim of men, which they truly sought, but not the approval of God. God knows what you do for others and the reasons you do it. Other persons should not know your efforts to help others. That is, do not brag or make public pronouncements of how good and holy you are. God, seeing in private, will reward you in the future (Matthew 6:18b): [Jesus said] “... your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”
• As you minister to others, try to find an appropriate time to share the Gospel. Invite any person who does not have a religious affiliation to join you in worship. If necessary, provide transportation. If you are worried that the person you help is dressed too shabbily for your church service, you attend the wrong church. Be sensitive in your invitation, though. Do not “push” a message of faith or worship, or it may seem that you are interested only in “chalking up” another Believer instead of showing him/ her your love. Your love and respect should have no strings attached. Trust the Holy Spirit to use your effort of love to work out matters of faith. A seed sown now may not be used for months or years, before it yields a harvest of salvation.
• Be sensitive at all times. Many persons in need have never asked for help before, and they are embarrassed to receive help now. Find ways to help, without embarrassing them or harming their self worth. If a family is involved, try to make any offer for help for the parent(s) in a manner that the children will not hear your offer. Preserve parental dignity by helping the parent(s) in private, in order that the parent(s) may directly help the children. The parent(s) and God should be exalted, not you.
Men especially: Be careful about ministering to a woman alone. A husband seeking to help the attractive young widow at the end of the block, who is clad in short shorts and a tee-shirt as she washes her car, should have his wife's full knowledge, permission, and participation. (A safer choice might be to find another mission.) Take your wife (sister or female relative) with you, as you seek to minster to a woman. Then, there can be no doubt in the minds of you, your wife, the woman, or neighbors about your motive.
Any adult: Concerns about pedophilia (child abuse) are widespread and, unfortunately, valid. Be careful in ministering to a child. Married couples would be better suited for ministering to a child. Always obtain permission from the child's parent or guardian. If at all possible, involve the parent or guardian with any activity for the child. If a parent or guardian declines your offer to minister to a child, understand that such rebuff likely reflects the times in which we live and not anything directed toward you personally.

SAMPLE OF ACTIVITIES: A few suggested activities (in random order) follow, and you should be able to think of other activities which will honor Jesus and serve your neighbors:
Donation to existing programs: Numerous charitable opportunities exist through your church and other faith organizations. Support some of these efforts, as you are led by the Lord and as you can afford. Support of Christ-honoring programs may be worthy of future Bema Judgment rewards. Support of secular programs, which do not honor the God, probably is not worthy of Bema Judgment rewards. For example: Is it better to donate to an orphan feeding program which ministers in the name of the Christ or to donate to a football team booster club?
Donation of food and other items: America has been in a recession for years (and is not recovering, but seems to be sliding into a more severe global recession). Many millions of unemployed Americans still struggle and must feed their families with “food stamps.” Such families, once proud, hard-working, and resilient, must now seek assistance from others. They often experience embarrassment, humiliation, shame, defeat, and failure, even though a failing economy is to blame for their predicament. After months of being denied employment, they understandably feel defeated and may see little hope for the future. Any help you can give “the least of these, Jesus' brethren,” will be most gratefully received by those in need (and gratefully received by Jesus). There are community programs to donate food, clothing, furniture, and other items to persons in need. Question: Should your charitable giving be to a Christ-honoring group or to a secular group, a group that may even be ashamed of Jesus' name? For example, I donate to the Salvation Army rather than the American Red Cross (even both may tackle the same problems) because the Salvation Army maintains a Christian perspective in its work.
Shop for others, as a gesture of love: If you have a homebound or frail neighbor, make a point of “buying too much ‘accidentally,’” and ask your neighbor if he/ she can take some of your excess groceries.
Cook for others, as a gesture of love: Occasionally, cook extra food in order to help persons in need. Such “need” may not be merely financial in nature. A widow or widower who has lost a mate after many years of marriage commonly loses interest in cooking, other than heating a can of soup. Call your neighbor and tell him/ her you have cooked too much meat loaf, casserole, cookies, or the like. Could you, please, bring him/ her some of the extra food? Ask your neighbor, if you can bring him/ her a complete lunch or dinner some day. Even better, ask him/ her to join you in a meal. Invite your neighbor for a family meal, even a Thanksgiving meal. Will setting the table for one more person be any more trouble?
Garden for others, as a gesture of love: If you plant a garden and have the space, add a few extra tomato or pepper plants, hills of squash, rows of beans or corn, or a few square feet of lettuce. Share your garden surplus with your neighbor. You may find your meals taste better, when you have shared with a neighbor in financial or emotional need.
Recycle infant clothing: Newborn infants are given more clothes by grandparents and other relatives than they ever use. Your community probably has a crisis pregnancy center. These centers give clothes, bottles, infant formula, and diapers to their clients who choose live births, rather than abortions. Take any clothing now outgrown by your infant to your local crisis pregnancy center.
Recycle warm clothing: Many communities provide warm clothing, especially winter coats, for the homeless. Clean out your closet by removing such items as winter coats you will no longer use. A homeless person may be warmed by your thoughtfulness.
Encourage men/ women in the military: Men and women in the military may be homesick, lonely, and frightened. Things they love (home, family, country, even such food as cheeseburgers and pizza) are far away.
• Find the name(s) and military (APO) address(es) of those who are protecting your liberty. You may have friends who have children/ grandchildren in the military. Write encouraging notes and cards. Ask your friends to do the same. Depending upon regulations, you may be able to send gifts to them. Let the young man/ woman know that you love him/ her in Jesus' name and that you pray for him/ her. Encourage him/ her to pray also for God's guidance and protection. Do not use such letters or cards as your soapbox to rant against war or express political biases. The man or woman stationed overseas wishes to be at home with family far more than you could ever wish it. This young patriot is not in a hostile land to offend you, but because he/ she is following an order of the government.
• If you are eating at a restaurant and see men/ women in military uniform eating at another table, quietly call the server and tell him/ her that you will pay the bill and gratuity for these young people. If they ask the server who did this kind act for them, have the server simply reply: “Your meal is paid for by someone who thanks you for your service to our nation and who wants you to know that God loves you.” You, the server, and our young patriots will be blessed by your kind act.
• Never let an opportunity pass without thanking a veteran or someone on active military duty for his/ her service to your nation and efforts to preserve liberty for you and your family. The government treats soldiers and veterans in a shameful, shoddy manner, but you, as a citizen, should always be thankful for the sacrifices men and women in military uniform make on your behalf.
• “America's Greatest Generation” is fast slipping away. If you have a relative or neighbor who served in the military during World War II, ask to visit him/ her to see what he/ she might like to share with you. Thank him/ her warmly for the sacrifices and service made to America. Consider taking the children/ grandchildren with you, and let them learn living history, too. When the troops come home and the parades and band music stop, too often our military men/ women are forgotten. Resolve that you will not forget.
Mini-sacrifices for others: As an American or citien of another affluent Western nation, you are far more blessed than you appreciate. Consider making personal sacrifices to help others in Jesus' name. Curtail one or more activities, put the money the activities would have cost in a jar, and think of a way you can spend your saved money for someone in greater need than your temporary, fleeting pleasures. Examples may include:
• When you eat out, skip the appetizer or dessert. Drink tap water, rather than a pricey drink. Choose a less expensive restaurant or a less expensive meal at your favorite restaurant. Keep track of the amount you saved at that meal, and plan to spend your accrued savings in the future for someone in need. NOTE: Please do not skimp on the gratuity. Your server works hard at the restaurant to make a living. Your “charity” should be your voluntary sacrifice, not your server's involuntary sacrifice.
• Deny yourself something to which you might ordinarily treat yourself. Examples might include: a round of golf, eating at an expensive restaurant, beauty treatment, and the like. From the abundance of your wealth, hold some back to help others in need.
• You and your spouse can agree to stop exchanging gifts (birthday, anniversary, and the like— gifts which may become routine and reflect little true sentiment). Is marital love really expressed by exchanging gifts? Take the money you both would have spent on each other, and spend it on a family in need.
If you are a Believer/ Christian, act like it: Being a true Believer in (Follower of) the Messiah is most difficult. You probably can agree with the Apostle Paul (Romans 7:15): For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. You are Jesus' representative in the world. You may be the only Believer a lost person knows, and his/ her entire concept of faith in Jesus is what he/ she hears or sees from you. An example well known to you is the strong resistance of many Jews to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. Why? Centuries of antisemitism and persecution by the self-described Christian Church or supposedly Christian nations— Crusades, Inquisitions, Holocaust, and the like— have convinced many Jews that Christ-followers are enemies of the Jews. If you live and act as a true Believer, you should make certain sacrifices for Jesus (including avoidance of inappropriate speech and behavior). Whether you like it, you set an example for non-Believers. Consider:
• Do you speak in vulgar, cursing language at work or around friends? Do you tell dirty jokes? Do you curse in God's name? Would Jesus use such language? Would Jesus repeat the jokes you tell? Would Jesus curse in the Father's name? Is Jesus pleased, when you speak in this manner? Does such language encourage non-Believers to come to salvation in Jesus?
• Do you visit bars to drink? Would Jesus accompany you to the bars and drink with you?
• Do you watch pornography? Would Jesus sit next to you, ogling the naked women on your screen?
• Are you unfaithful to your spouse? Would Jesus approve of your infidelity?
• Are you dishonest in dealing with others? Would Jesus approve of your crooked, underhanded tactics? Your children and others may observe your dishonesty. Even if no one sees your dishonesty, God does. Consider a statement of H. Jackson Brown, Jr.: “Our character is what we do when we think no one is looking.” Quietly returning excess money given to you in change by a tired cashier speaks much louder than saying, “God loves you.”
Treat all persons with dignity and respect: Jesus taught a concept that is usually paraphrased as The Golden Rule (Luke 6:31): [Jesus said] “And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.” The LORD commanded (Leviticus 19:18b): “... but you shall love your neighbor as yourself....” Jesus later cited this commandment as the second of the two greatest commandments from God (see Matthew 22:39). James D. Miles said: “You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.” In dealing with others, let your speech and actions be a testimony to others that you are a Believer. Are you kind to all persons you meet? Jesus tried to befriend every person He met. If you follow Jesus' example, you give testimony that Someone special lives in your heart. A true Believer can be recognized from his/ her actions, and he/ she will not have to boast of his/ her faith.
Night out for a young family: If you find a family barely making living expenses, you will learn that a family night out is an impossibility. For such a family, purchase a gift card to a local fast food restaurant (McDonald's, for example). Treat the family to a restaurant meal. If possible, throw in enough cash to let the family play some miniature golf, bowl, or attend a movie. The family will greatly cherish this rare treat, and you, imagining their excitement, will enjoy your evening even more.
Meals for a senior citizen couple: If you find a senior citizen couple who cannot afford to eat at a restaurant, purchase a gift card to a restaurant they might like (Cracker Barrel, for example). Encourage them to “go on a date,” and eat a good meal in a restaurant. Your meal that evening will taste even better because of the joy you experience in your heart, knowing that you have done something good and kind in Jesus' name.
Chores, home repairs: If you find an elderly or handicapped person, offer to do some chores for that person— leaf raking, yard mowing, weed trimming, housework, etc. You may be able to make simple home repairs that exceed that person's capability. Two or three hours of your time will greatly lighten the burdens of someone less agile than you are.
Visitation: Your community is filled with lonely people. “Adopt” a lonely person, especially a shut-in person, and visit him/ her periodically. Let him/ her choose the conversation topic, even if rambling or repetitious. You may be the only human to whom that person has spoken that week. An older person can remember fascinating history. (Have you ever talked to a World War II veteran about his war experiences?) Younger children may be fascinated by this oral history, as well. Take a big plate of home-baked cookies and a box of tea bags, and you both can enjoy cookies and hot tea, as you talk. Find out the person's birthday (month and day, not year). On his/ her birthday, surprise him/ her with a birthday cake. Even a frosted cupcake with a single birthday candle will be greatly appreciated.
Respite care: [respite definition = “short period of relief or rest”] Many people in your community are home caregivers. They provide for the needs of a spouse with Alzheimer's disease or a disabled relative. They must be present in the home “24-7.” If you can stay with the relative needing care, the caregiver can have a few hours of relief to shop, visit the beauty parlor, visit the library, see a movie, eat a restaurant meal, or do something else to relieve the tension and stress that builds up from their non-stop home duties. Your substitute duties will probably be light, but your presence will mean much to a tired caregiver. By sharing someone else's burden, you follow Jesus, when He said (Matthew 11:28-30): “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.”
Assistance for a family in need: Many families are verging on the brink of insolvency. Find a family in need. You “and Jesus” can help with some outstanding bills (utilities, mortgage, etc.). Making a past-due payment or two may help a floundering family's finances immensely.
Share the Gospel: If the opportunity arises, share the Good News (the Gospel) of Jesus the Christ with persons to whom you minister. A forty-five minute “fire and brimstone” sermon may not be welcome. A few gentle words about what your Savior has done in your life— and can do in the lives of the persons to whom you minister— may be welcome and effective. Your actions will speak louder than your words. If you plant the seed of God's love, demonstrated by the actions of your love, you have done well. Have faith that the Holy Spirit is fully capable of building on the foundation you have laid. Jesus is the Foundation of our faith and you are a “living stone” to be laid on that Foundation to build a spiritual house (1 Peter 2:4-5): Coming to [the Lord] as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Serve Jesus' “brethren:” In Jesus' Parable of the Sheep and Goats (Matthew 25:31-46), He gave examples of His “brethren” to whom we all would do well to serve. Using this teaching, consider feeding the hungry; or, giving drink to the thirsty; or, sheltering the stranger; or, clothing the poorly clothed; or, visiting the sick; or, ministering to those in jail. When you do, you minister not only to a person in need but also to Jesus Himself (Matthew 25:40): [Jesus said] “... ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” Ministering to “the least” among us is a good place to start ministering to Jesus. Jesus does not live in magnificent cathedrals, and you will have difficulty finding Him there. Jesus does live in the worst of conditions— under bridges, in substandard housing, in jails, and other places you do not like to consider— and you can find always find Him there among His brethren.
Other: There are many opportunities to serve others in love. Only a few opportunities have been mentioned. Pray that the Holy Spirit will bring you into contact with people in need, that you will be able to recognize their need, that you will feel their need as your own, that you will be able to formulate an effective response, and that you will find appropriate words of encouragement and love.

GENERAL INFORMATION: Scriptures are taken from the NEW KING JAMES VERSION of the Holy Bible, © Thomas Nelson, Inc. Verses are reproduced in RED FONT COLOR

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Contact the author of this Website at: Raymond Finney or (865) 984.1424.

The author (Dr. Raymond Finney) feels so strongly that this mission effort will make a significant, positive impact on your congregation that he will:
• Come to your place of worship to speak about Bema Judgment preparation, if invited. (A speaker's honorarium will not be expected or accepted.) and/or
• Re-write and personalize this Website for your church, if requested, provided only reasonably minor changes are required. There is no charge for this re-writing. Finney will even pay for your Website domain and URL fees for at least one year. Call (865) 984.1424.

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Letters of appreciation for persons in your community:

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Send a letter of appreciation to a military veteran or man/ woman on active military duty. These people should be thanked on more than Veterans Day.

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Send an encouraging letter to a firefighter, member of the police or sheriff department, or other public servant who risk their lives for your security. Or, send a more inclusive letter to your fire station or police/ sheriff precinct. These public servants are seldom thanked, especially in the present climate of civil unrest and “war on the police.” They face enormous emotional stresses, leading to high divorce and suicide rates.

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Leave a letter of appreciation for your restaurant server, when you eat out— in addition to your gratuity. Servers are seldom thanked. Servers almost uniformly dislike to serve “church people,” because they are demanding, often critical of food/ service, tip poorly or not all, and tie up tables for long periods of time. As a Christian, be a welcome exception to the “church people” stereotype.

A few days before Thanksgiving, search for a family apparently in need of financial assistance for the holiday. Write a personal note of encouragement at the bottom of the letter printed from this link. Tuck a generous contribution of cash or grocery gift card in this letter. Hand the letter and gift to the family, and say very little (example: “Please accept this gift because Jesus loves you. Have a blessed Thanksgiving.”). Walk away. (You may wish to walk away slowly in case the recipient wishes to inquire about your reason for the gift. You may, then, share the Gospel, if the person seems to be receptive for the Gospel.) Your gift and Jesus' love will say all that needs to be said. Your Thanksgiving meal will be more enjoyable, knowing that you helped others to celebrate Thanksgiving better.

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A few days before Christmas, search for a family apparently in need of financial assistance for the holiday. Write a personal note of encouragement at the bottom of the letter printed from this link. Tuck a generous contribution of cash, department store gift card, or grocery gift card in this letter. Hand the letter and gift to the family, and say very little (example: “Please accept this gift because God gave me the most wonderful gift possible. Have a blessed Christmas.”). Walk away. (You may wish to walk away slowly in case the recipient wishes to inquire about your reason for the gift. You may, then, share the Gospel, if the person seems to be receptive for the Gospel.) Your gift and Jesus' love will say all that needs to be said. Your Christmas will be brighter, knowing that you shared the joy of the birth of the Light of the world with others.

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