In last Sunday’s message, I offered an abbreviated walk through the Gospel of Matthew. 

First, we learned about the man born blind as Jesus taught us that in the Kingdom of God there are no preferences among people. We are all welcome equally into His Father’s grace – no one earns, no receives, more than anyone else.

Then we learned about the attendees at the wedding banquet hosted by the King. Jesus taught us that the Kingdom of God is open, and available, to everyone. No invitation needed. Come just as you are. Nothing about you, not one thing, will keep you from feasting at the banquet table.

But, it’s the third lesson that tells us how we are called to live in the world. Jesus simplifies it for us! We either live like sheep, or live like goats. Only the sheep receive the spiritual gifts of God and enter into an eternal life now. And what is it that the sheep did, that the goats didn’t do? Jesus summarized how we’re supposed to live in 6 simple (but not easy!) ways:

  • <>< Give the hungry something to eat
  • <>< Give the thirsty something to drink
  • <>< Invite the stranger in
  • <>< Give clothes to those who need them
  • <>< Look after the sick
  • <>< Visit those in prison

So, we learn that by putting our self-centered desires aside, we can actually receive all the blessings of heaven by trying to bless others in need. Who? Well, Jesus makes it clear throughout the gospels that there is no person that is considered beyond our help. Indeed, Jesus goes on to say that it’s those most in need that should be our priorities. He says, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matt. 25:40)

Many things can hold us back from living this way. Most of these things are “taught” to us through our own live experience and through the training we receive from our family and our culture. And almost all the time, these lessons are based on worldly and cultural values, not the gospel values that Jesus taught us. And almost all of those are based on the powerful belief that the most important thing in the world is ME! Particularly, the lesson of putting yourself first in all things and being fearful of anything that violates this code. 

Jesus didn’t teach any of those values. Instead, He taught us about eternal and universal truths that exist both in this world and beyond it. He told us we must die to ourselves first, so that we can be re-born into the person God created us to be. He said we have to put away the ways of the world so that we could enter into the Kingdom that He has come to prepare for us.

And Jesus knew that one of the biggest barriers to following His way in this world would be fear. Fear can sap the gospel spirit (and Jesus with it) right out of any of our good intentions because fear and divine love are not compatible. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus shares these thoughts: 

  • <>< “I tell you my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that can do nothing more” (Luke 12:4)
  • <>< “Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life” (Luke 12:22)
  • <>< “Do not be afraid little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32) 

When we become willing to let Jesus help us with our fears, then we gain a new way to see. In fact, the ones we were most afraid of become Jesus to our new eyes. And when that happens, then our journey with Jesus has become our primary way of life. Worldly and cultural values are now seen for what they are; illusions to keep us in our place. 

Jesus never wants us to stay the way we are, even when we’re following Him. Walking with Jesus is a new revelation every single day. And you can rest assured, Jesus will bring those He calls you to help, right to your doorstep. They’re all around you every day. That’s why every day with Jesus is a mission trip experience! 

Valentine’s weekend at Vine Street Christian Church will be a big step forward toward becoming a Matthew 25 church. Some members of our church will be taking clothes that the congregation has donated to the Hour House recovery center in Charleston – giving clothes to those who need them. Some members of our church will be taking food donated during our Advent “Place for Kids” to our local food pantry at the Methodist church – giving food to the hungry. Some members of our church will be delivering or sending Valentine’s gift bags to those in nursing homes, to those in the military, and to local neighbors who may not even know us – giving gifts of love to those who may be sick, strangers, or just good old neighbors. (And every gift bag will have a Valentine’s Day card created by our precious Vine Street kids!) 

And trust me – those who reaching out and giving to the neediest this Valentine’s weekend will be the ones most blessed, for they will be the ones finding Jesus all around them, in every person they give to. 

Wouldn’t it be great if every member or friend of VSCC found a way to be part of the Matthew 25 effort? Let this be my personal invitation to you to find a way to join in the giving. I promise, if you say yes, then we will find a way to meet you where you’re at in life and either hook you in to something already started, or create a new way for you to be a part of the blessings. 

If you are even interested a little bit, then text me or email me (859-351-9585; It’s not about me wanting you to help the church, but about Jesus wanting to change your life in a way only He could. Pray about it. Think about it. Reflect upon it. Then reach out to me. 

Just imagine if we had a spontaneous explosion of giving and serving whereby every one of us was on board. Think about what that would mean to the least of us … and even more so, to each and every one of us – including you! 

Blessings along the Way … and may the peace of God fill your heart,                            

Pastor Bob <><