Looking To Bless
You’d be surprised what the Lord will do for you as you pray specifically for the needs of others.
Alright, thank you very much, and hello again, dear radio friends. How in the world are you? Doing alright? I hope everything’s okay at your house. Nice to greet you once again through the various radio stations all across the country that carry this broadcast day by day. I consider it the highest privilege of my life to share the Word of God with you and with thousands of other friends just like you. Look with me, if you will, at Romans 16:1 and 2. We’re talking about this lady, Phoebe, who is some kind of a worker in the church at Cenchrea.
She has some official duties, evidently. And Paul says concerning her “that she has been a succourer of many and of myself also.” Now I told you that that word “succourer” in your Greek New Testament is “prostatis” which means “a person with official responsibilities who cares for the affairs of others and helps them from her own resources.” That’s what that means. What she did was to face her responsibility – whatever that had been given her, it doesn’t say – face her responsibility, look after other people in terms of their needs and then help them.
It does seem to me that this is good profile of what you and I may very well do if we want to be of help in our own local community. Had you thought of it that way? Think with me, if you will, of how you and I can measure up to this same outline and do so with great blessing. It says, “She faced up to her responsibility,” part of the meaning of that word “prostatis” is that there is an assigned responsibility. The word is used variously as patroness, governess, overseer, and so on.
So, the first thing you and I need to do is to ask this question “What really is my responsibility at this time?” That question will help you settle a lot of other questions, surprisingly enough. A dear lady approached me on one occasion and she said “I want to become a foreign missionary. Help me to become a foreign missionary. I believe God is calling me to be a foreign missionary.” Well, I said, “Let’s talk about it, shall we?” I said, “How old are you?” She said “38.” I said, “What is your family condition?” She said, “I’m divorced and I have two daughters. They’re just now coming into their teens.”
“Well, now,” I said, “you want to be a foreign missionary. That would involve going to school and it would involve leaving your daughters for long periods of time and then if you were sent to some foreign field by a missionary society, it would mean uprooting your daughters and bringing them with you to a foreign country and the various types of different schooling that would be there either at a missionary school where they’d be separated from you for 9 months of the year or at a national school where the standards would probably be far different or else to leave them in this country while you went abroad.”
“Now,” I said, “has it ever occurred to you that maybe your biggest ministry right now is a ministry to those two precious girls?” Well, no, she hadn’t thought of it that way but as we talked and prayed, the truth seemed to come home to her own heart that maybe her ministry at that time was to minister Christ to these precious fatherless girls and to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Now, this she did. Both of them grew up to be beautiful effective Christian ladies and are to this day, serving the Lord, effectively.
Now, what about the lady with the missionary call? Well, later on, God got her in touch with a missionary organization which appointed her as it’s official representative and she travelled widely in raising up friends and prayer helpers and support for this mission. She became the missionary that God wanted her to be after having faced up to her present responsibility. What is your responsibility today, beloved? What is it that God wants you to do today, this minute? You can leave 10 years from now with Him. He has His plans laid.
But right now, what would He have you do? That is the profile of Phoebe. She faced up to her responsibilities. Let’s you and I do the same. I know pretty well what my responsibilities are today but I find that unless I go back and review them and pray about them, the idea of my responsibilities gets a little fuzzy from time to time. Would that be true of some of you, I wonder? It is a good thing for me, at least. I must admit to step back, so to speak, from the activities of everyday, and say “Now, Lord, remind me once again of what it really is You want me to do.”
And in that moment of review and prayer, God refreshes in my mind the things that really matter. Let’s you and I do that from time to time, shall we? Back off from the frenzied activity of everyday that some of us have. Back off from that and say “Now, Lord, tell me once again what it is you really want me to do today?” She faced up to her given responsibility. What else? She cared about the needs of others. You’ve heard me tell about Clyde Narramore’s illustration of meeting someone in the hallway at school and say “Hello, Susie, how are you?”
And Dr. Narramore says, “If she answers ‘Not so good,’ and you answer, ‘I’m sorry,’ does that prove that you cared? No, it doesn’t. But if you turn on your heel and you say, ‘Oh, I’m sorry. What seems to be the matter?’ then she has a chance to tell you that her mother fell down the cellar stairs and broke her hip and she’s in the hospital and Susie is terribly worried about her mother and so on.” Then you have opportunity to do something about it. You may be able to go see her mother in the hospital and win her to Christ.
You don’t know what God has for you but you have to start somewhere by caring. What does it mean to care about people? Number one, it means to stop and think about them. Our contacts with many people are largely unthinking, have you noticed that? You pass people day by day, you say “Hello, Jim. How are you?” And he says, “Fine. How are you?” You say, “Fine.” You go on. It didn’t mean a thing except that you greeted each other in passing. And so if you’re going to care about people, it means you have to stop and think about them.
What is there about this person that I need to be concerned about? What is there about this person about which he or she may be burdened or unhappy? And what is there about this person, assuming that there’s something over which he or she is burdened or unhappy, what is there that I can do about it? To care about somebody doesn’t necessarily mean to be emotional about them. It does mean to stop and think about them rather than just passing them by like ships that pass in the night.
You see the difference? Now, small thought here: Don’t make a federal case of it. There’s nobody more odious than someone who is officially helpful. Oh, dear. “Deliver me,” you say. Anybody who’s officially helpful, “I’m going to help you, my brother.” Oh, no, no. Not that. Don’t make a federal case of it but just very quietly, think about the needs of other people. Paul says it in Philippians 2, “Look not every man on his own things only but every man also on the things of others. Bear ye one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.” To think about other people.
Dawson Trotman used to write on his palms with India ink the initials of people for whom he was praying all day long. And every time he looked at the palm of his right hand, he’d see the initials of someone for whom he was praying all day long. That’s one way to do it. One day, I dropped in his office and I saw the letters O.W. on the palm of his hand. I said, “I don’t know any of your workers that has that initial, Daws.” I said, “Who is that O.W.?” And he laughed. He said, “That’s stands for Other Works.”
And then he quoted a passage from Philippians 2, “Look not every man on his own things only but every man also on the things of others.” He said, “Today, we’re praying for other works.” He said, “We just finished praying for you before you came in.” This is the way to approach this whole matter of being a helper, an effective helper. Stop and think about people. Consider what their needs may be. Oh, and because you’re a Christian, pray about them. Pray about them. Consider other people and their needs and pray about them.
You’d be surprised what the Lord will do for you as you pray specifically for the needs of others. Oftentimes, the faithful Holy Spirit will suggest to you something that he wants you to do as a result of your praying and then do what you can out of your own resources. To care about a person means stop and think, pray about, and do then what you can. “A person caring for the affairs of others and aiding them,” it says, “from his or her own resources.” Now, you can’t do everything but you can do something.
Oftentimes I’ve found that the small bit of help that has been offered by somebody who cared was appreciated far more than something that came organizationally that may have been of more magnitude, offering the help that you can offer. You know your neighbor is sick. Why not bring a hot bowl of soup over or some homemade jelly or something that will say “I’m thinking about you.” You’d be surprised at what difference that will make, the little impulsive generous actions that God whispers to your heart.
I’ve often said to my radio friends, “Obey that generous impulse.” You have the impulse to do something generous. Well, why not do it? I had a letter not long from someone who had heard me say “Obey that generous impulse.” And this person wrote and said that they had seen a lady on a wintery day carrying a couple of bags of groceries as they both were leaving the grocery store. And this person said, “Because I was in a hurry, I thought to hurry on into my car but instead, I brought the car around to where she was struggling through the snow and I said, ‘May I help you?’ ‘Oh,’ she said, ‘Bless you. I was just praying that God would send somebody to help me. I don’t know how I would have made it otherwise,’”
Dear aged lady struggling with the groceries and she was so grateful to be deposited at her own doorstep by somebody who obeyed that generous impulse. God will help you do this if you’ll think about people, if you’ll pray about them, and then if you’d be willing to do what you can personally for them, that will make you what the Bible calls “a succourer,” an effective helper of people in their need.
Dear Father today, help us to be an effective helper of others at the point of their need, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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