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Sacrifice in Service

Christ tells us that the greatest commandments are to love God and love people. (Mark 12:30-31) Sounds great, but is there a way to know how we’re doing in fulfilling these commandments? Author Philip Yancey says, “Here’s a good test of how well we love: Are other people glad to be with us?” Great question!

As you reflect on that question, allow me to introduce you to someone that I’m glad to know and be around, Amy Ingram. Amy, her husband Walt and their son Josh have been attending Bethel since early 2018. I was blessed to have worked with Amy when I worked for Central Virginia Bank a few years ago. I left the bank and lost touch with Amy until she began attending Bethel. Once Amy started attending, I was really impressed with Amy’s hunger for the Lord. She has a thirst to grow in the Lord, but equally as important, she wants others to come to know and experience the same peace and joy that she enjoys.

I witnessed this desire one day when Amy came to me and said, “I feel like God wants me to do something, but I’m not sure what.” We talked, we prayed and we explored what she thought the Lord was leading her to do. She said she thought about starting a ladies small group Bible study at C&F Bank where she is employed. We then prayed and asked the Lord to lead her in this endeavor and to show her what the ladies should study.

Amy said one of the ladies at her work had the book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. A couple of the ladies read this book and Amy then mentioned that I had used part of that book for a sermon series not long ago and had shown the book on the screen during worship. The book The Emotionally Healthy Woman came up in conversation. Amy took that as a sign of the Lord’s leading and then she took a step of faith.

C&F Bible StudyAmy sent out the invites, but she did so with some trepidation. She had never led a class like this before so she was nervous about leading and she wondered if anyone would even respond to the invite. Not only did eight people respond, but the Lord also provided a leader. One person who responded is actually going to be leading a small group through this book at her church in January.

There are a couple of things I’d like to take from Amy’s story. First, this is exactly the kind of thing we’re looking to do here at Bethel. We want to help people to listen to the Lord, then we want to assist them in living out what they believe the Lord is calling them to do in their lives. One way the church assisted Amy was by purchasing the books for the class as a way of blessing them and encouraging them.

Second, we’ve said for a long time that our desire is to minister beyond the walls of the church. Amy’s small group is a great example of how to do just that. Because of Amy, Bethel now has church on Monday evenings at C&F Bank. How cool is that!

There are plenty of other ways to minister “beyond the walls” of the church, the question is how is the Lord calling you to serve “beyond the walls?” How can we BE the church in our homes, workplaces and community?

One other thing to note about Amy’s story is notice that it involves courage and sacrifice. Amy has never done anything like this before. It took some courage to begin the group. Then Amy and her group are willing to stay after work to grow in their faith, that’s a bit of a sacrifice. Following the Lord usually requires courage and sacrifice.

Here’s a little secret when it comes to sacrifice: When we align our wills with the Lord’s will and allow him to be Lord of our lives, our sacrifice is the pathway to peace, joy and contentment. Amy tells me that the ladies who attend the group are blessed by their attendance and Amy has been blessed and she is truly excited for what’s happening in her life as the Lord works through her.

Amy’s story is a victory for Bethel and for God’s Kingdom. I’m excited for her and I’m excited for Bethel because I believe there are a lot more stories just like Amy’s that are waiting to happen. All it will take is you saying, “Here I am, Lord. Lead me to align my will with your will that I may bless others.” If we do that, and do it humbly, sacrificially and with love, Bethel will be a slice of heaven and you and I will experience the peace and joy of the Lord. May God bless Amy, Walt and Josh Ingram and may God bless Bethel Baptist Church. Amen.

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