Tag Archives: serving God

Titus, Philemon; The Alternative

A friend of mine recently said, “I figure every day I’m still alive is a good day, when you consider the alternative.” I said, “I look forward to the alternative.”

Paul, in the two short letters I read today reminds us that, as Christians, we have important work to be doing, regardless of our ages. There are people who need the Lord, and it’s up to us to be sure they hear about the Savior. We are to be encouraging one another, teaching about and growing in our relationship with Jesus, “while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God, and Savior, Jesus Christ.” (2:13)

It’s not that I have a death wish. I love life here on planet Earth. I am blessed beyond what I deserve. But I also would love to be home. G. Campbell Morgan put it like this, “I am not looking for death, I’m looking for Him.”

And so am I.

Let’s get busy today living. Let’s be Jesus’ voice, hands, and feet to people who need him. Let’s talk about Jesus with people we come in contact with today. What a privilege to live for Jesus today.

And together, let’s keep one eye on the sky. We might actually get to meet Him today. My heart might stop beating. I might close my eyes, and open them in heaven today. Or this might be the day Jesus comes again in the clouds and take us all home. Either way, the alternative to this life, with all its cares and worries, even the measure of joy and blessing we experience here will be behind us. Then the fun begins for us who have accepted God’s grace through the blood of His Son, Jesus.

Or we might live another fifty years, Jesus might not come back for another 2,000 years. We don’t know. The only thing we know for sure is that this life is not forever. There is an eternity. And Jesus will come again.

Do you know Him? Are you ready to meet Him? If you aren’t, find someone who does and talk to them. If you are, be that person who will lead a sinner to the salvation Jesus bought for them.

Christian, get busy. And be assured, the alternative to this life is wonderful beyond imagination.

 

Luke 8-10; A Subtle, Yet Significant Difference

Jesus sent out seventy-two missionaries into “every town and place where he was about to go.” (10:1) He gave them this message: “The Kingdom of God is near you.”

Plus, Jesus gave these missionaries power to heal the sick and cast out demons. These seventy-two came back on a mountain-top, filled with joy and excitement as they shared how God had blessed their ministries.

“Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” How awesome to have been a part of God’s work in those cities.

But Jesus said something to them that struck me this morning. “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven… do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.

What caused Satan to fall from heaven? Pride.

And Jesus said, in essence, to the seventy-two, “Wait a minute. Those demons didn’t submit to you. They submitted to me. Don’t allow what I do through you cause you to be prideful. Pride is what sent Satan to hell. If you rejoice in anything, rejoice in the fact your sins – which are many – are forgiven.”

There is a subtle difference between saying, “God used ME,” and “GOD used me.” You may say, “but I am humbled God used ME.” But that sounds like what you are really saying is that you are proud of your humility.

Through this Scripture today, God has prompted me to look at my own attitude toward service. As I write this I started to list the ministries I am involved in to make a point. But all of a sudden it turned into a subtle “Look at me.” “Look how God is using ME.” When in fact, God is reminding me He is the one at work. I am only a tool.

I feel like I need to encourage us to take ourselves out of the mix all together. Look at what God did. Forget the “through me” part of the sentence. We tend to put so much emphasis on the servant when, in fact, God could use a monkey to accomplish the same thing if He wanted to. It’s not about you. It’s not about me. It’s never was.

Let’s not miss recognizing what God is doing, when we subtly turn the emphasis on ourselves. Pride is pride. And it’s a sin even if it’s cloaked in humility, or excitement, or praise. Can we just say “Praise God for working, for doing, for revealing Himself in this situation,” without adding anything about us who were His instrument?

What a shame if we allow our “selves” to prevent us from giving credit where credit is due. What a shame if we would sin while serving. How tragic if we would allow pride to creep in. Yes, it’s a subtle difference. But it’s a difference Jesus felt was important enough to address.

That makes it significant.

Matthew 20-22; The Invitation

Jesus sure had a lot to say about the Kingdom of God. I’m learning some things about my own walk with Him as I consider how the Church should look and operate according to the Lord. I want to be an intentionally obedient citizen.

Jesus tells us in chapter 20 the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who hires laborers. For one thing, this parable reminds me we all are to be out there working, planting, watering, and harvesting every day.

And, although this parable is talking about the heavenly kingdom and grace, God is revealing some things about Himself. First, He is the boss. Period. How He runs things is really not our business. He’s not sending out a survey asking how we think He’s doing. He doesn’t need our approval. But He wants us to know He is a good boss, a fair boss, as well as a generous boss.

Which leads me to the second thing God is revealing about Himself in this parable: His grace is His to give and I can be sure that, as His child, I will not be cheated. As a citizen of the Kingdom of God, I am assured that my King does all things well. I need to look less at others, and recognize the enormous amount of grace He has shown me. God is generous to me.

The next parable is also about a landowner. This one reveals that the Jews would reject Jesus as the Messiah, and would be responsible for Jesus’ death. The kingdom is no longer a Jewish thing. It’s a believers thing. Praise God!

And that parable is reinforced in the next one, the wedding banquet. God’s kingdom is open to everyone; rich, poor, good, bad…

But, and here is the kicker, only those wearing “wedding clothes” will be granted entrance. The invitation is there. But you can’t be a citizen of God’s Kingdom on your own terms. The Kingdom of God is reserved for those who accept God’s grace through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Looking at God’s Kingdom through these chapters reminds me what a privilege it is to belong. It encourages me to get out there, working for a harvest, inviting others to join us who know Jesus as our Savior.

So I’m inviting you!

Malachi; Driven

Have you known  anyone you would describe as “driven?” People who work ten hours a day, then bring work home with them? People who haven’t taken a vacation in years, never turned down an assignment, or overtime because they are focused on advancing in their careers or padding their bank accounts?

Some people are driven by their hobbies. They spend thousands of dollars and hours on finding the next piece in their collection, or on improving their golf swing. They surf the net, pour over magazines, and know exactly who to talk to for the latest information on their favorite activity. And these same people have a knack of turning every conversation you have with them around to what drives them.

Malachi has me looking at my own drive today. He’s talking to people who seem to have thought they were doing a pretty good job as far as their religion went. But God is calling them – and me – out for hypocrisy.

He first got my attention in 1:8. The priests had evidently been faithfully offering sacrifices like Moses had told them to centuries before. But the animals these priests were offering were the left-overs. The crippled and diseased animals of the flock were being used in their sacrifices to the Lord. God, in no uncertain terms, says, “This is just wrong!”

Then He goes on to challenge the priests with this: “Try giving those animals to the governor. Would that make him happy? Would he reward you for bringing him a diseased animal?”

Have you ever worked so hard throughout the week that you just couldn’t make yourself get out of bed on a Sunday morning to go to church? Do you fill your evenings up until late, so you let yourself sleep until the very last minute, then you just don’t have time in the morning to be alone with God, praying, and reading His Word? Have you ever agreed to teach a Sunday School class but, because your schedule was so full during the week, you didn’t even look at the lesson until Saturday night?

Now, what if you applied those same principals to your job? Malachi, in a sense says, “Try offering that to your boss. Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?”

What do you think?

I think it’s significant that God inspired this particular book to be placed at the end of the Old Testament, the last thing we read before Jesus’ birth: Service. Honest worship. Making God our priority. Sacrifice. I think it’s significant because when we turn the page we are going to see those things lived out in the lives of Jesus, Peter, Paul, and others who make God, and serving Him, their number one priority.

So the question I believe God wants us to consider today is, where does He fit on our own lists of priorities? How much time during our day do we devote to God as compared to our attention to other things and people? Are we guilty of offering Him the left-overs?

I hope you’ll read the book of Malachi today and let God speak to you from His heart. He demands – and deserves – our best. Is that what we are giving Him?

Zechariah 1-3; Responding To God’s Word

I read Zechariah several times today before dragging out the commentaries of people who believe they know the meaning of the visions recorded here. But, honestly, I get weary when they keep saying, “This verse refers to historical facts, this one refers to Jesus, but this one has to do with our future.” So I prayed as always, “God, what do You want me to know about You today? What do You want to say to me about my walk with You?”

Wow. I think God loves answering that prayer. So I’m only going to share what He has laid on my heart in the first three chapters today. There is so much, I didn’t want to try to tackle the whole book in one post. You may find yourself wanting to debate the details of my interpretation if they don’t align with yours. But I’m just going to let you in on my personal encounter with God today. You don’t have to quote me.

This is what God said to me about Himself: He is in all the world, as symbolized by the horses in chapter 1. Nothing happens anywhere on earth that God doesn’t know, nowhere that He isn’t present. That gives me great comfort.

But God also says, He doesn’t much like what He sees out there all the time. There are forces that would destroy God’s people, as I see in the four horns. But take heart, dear one! God has worker bees among us who are His arms and legs in this battle. And we win! That gives me confidence.

I love that the Jerusalem in Zechariah’s vision has no walls. In fact, God IS the walls of protection surrounding His church. And He IS the glory inside the church. Our protector, our joy and hope, the One True God right here with us and in us!

“For I am coming, and I will live among you,” declares the Lord. (2:10b)

And when He came in the person of Jesus, people from many nations joined the believing Jews to become God’s people. We are God’s inheritance, the apple of His eye. That makes me love Him so much!

I love how Zechariah’s vision pictures Jesus’ work on the cross when He removed “the sin of this land in a single day.” Before He died that day, Jesus said, “IT IS FINISHED.”

Here’s Joshua, a priest guilty of sin, wearing filthy rags, standing before God. Does God turn him away like Satan expects? NO! God removes the filth, and clothes Joshua in rich garments. “If you will walk in my ways and keep my requirements,… I will give you a place among these standing here.” (3:7b)

That’s me! I can stand before God absolutely pure – because He has clothed me with His own purity. Jesus paid the price for my sin, God forgives me. And I am washed whiter than snow through my Savior’s precious blood. That makes me want to bow before Him and worship Him like He deserves.

So today, I feel like God is reminding me He’s got this. Yes, there is a battle going on. Yes, it may seem evil is winning. But God wants me to know He is my protector, my Savior, and I am His beloved, the apple of His eye. What is my response? It makes me want to get out there and serve Him.

Haggai; Caring For The Church

I’ve shared that our pastor obeyed God’s call to minister at another church, leaving us pastor-less for the time being. We certainly miss him. But what an exciting time to be a part of this fellowship!

I thought about us, and other churches like us with pastor search committees, as I read what God had to say through Haggai. The Jews had neglected the Temple, they let it fall into ruin. Yet their own homes were state-of-the-art. Maybe an exaggeration, but God said:

Because of my house, which remains in ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house. (1:9)

God was doling out discipline for their lack of care for His house. Now I’m not suggesting our church is in ruin because Pastor Whit is no longer here. Quite the opposite is true. In fact, the three men who have filled the pulpit since Pastor left have all had a similar theme – Don’t stop!

We’ve been encouraged not to think of this season as “limbo.” We’ve been challenged to step up our service and giving instead of sitting back and waiting until we call a preacher. Why? Because this isn’t Pastor Whit’s church. Never has been. Never will be. This is God’s church here on this island. And WE are charged with it’s upkeep and growth.

We had our quarterly business meeting last Sunday evening. The various committees gave reports, and we were caught up on where we are in the pastor search process. My heart was blessed as the reports were given, how excited people are about ministry opportunities in and through our church, how much prayer is being given for each area of service, and how much we are seeking God’s will for our future. I don’t see this church fellowship going into ruin any time soon!

But the potential is there. Not just for us, but for any church looking to call a Shepherd. Not just for us, but any church fellowship in transition.

For some people, it might be easy to step back a bit during these times, to sleep in on Sundays rather than taking a chance on the potluck preacher who is speaking this week until we call an interim. It might be tempting to cut back on giving since we’re not paying a preacher right now. (Who couldn’t use a few extra bucks each month?) It might seem we are within our rights to turn down ministry opportunities until we see where this thing is going.

But God needs us to keep his house in good repair – not because of a pastor – but because it’s GOD’s. Haggai reminds us there are consequences to pay for neglecting God’s house. I know we can apply this to our church fellowships as well.

You most likely have a pastor at your church. Are you letting him be the sole carer of God’s house? Are there things you should be doing to make your fellowship vital, fruit-bearing, and beautiful? Many times things start falling apart slowly, almost imperceptibly. We get used to passing by that door hanging off its hinges. We get used to not seeing the Smiths or Joneses in Sunday School, before we forget they were even there. Giving is down, but we don’t even realize the pastor’s salary has been cut, or that there is no money to repair the roof.

Dear one, we have the honor of caring for God’s house, for caring for His Church, for caring for his children. Let’s determine to keep His house in full repair, running on all cylinders, and being a bright light in our communities for Jesus’ sake.

With or without a pastor in the pulpit.

 

Psalms 84-89; Today

Priorities. Pain. Praise. A personal relationship with God. All are familiar themes in the book of Psalms. Some psalms express a longing for the past while lamenting over the present. Some psalms question God, plead with Him for deliverance, or nearly burst at the seams with praise.

As I talked to God about these psalms today, He reminded me I can’t change the past. And worrying about tomorrow is a fruitless exercise Jesus told us to stop.

But I have today.

I ran across something Oswald Chambers said in regard to Psalm 85:

“It is no use to pray for the old days; stand square where you are and make the present better than any past has been. Base all on your relationship to God and go forward, and presently you will find that what is emerging is infinitely better than the past ever was.”

Do you trust God enough to stand square where you are today? Is your relationship with God that solid ground on which you face very challenge, ever opportunity? Or are you content to sit back and wish things were like they used to be (when if you’re honest those times had troubles of their own).

Let’s let God have today. Let’s look for ways to serve Him, to draw closer to Him, to further His will.

THIS is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in…

TODAY!