Tag Archives: serving God

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!

 

Psalms 69-72; No Such Thing As A Retired Christian

I retired from public education in 2010. It was time. As much as I loved my job, I just couldn’t do it anymore with the same energy I’d had 37 years before. The kids deserved better than what I was able to give.

I attend a Sunday School class for adult women. And when I say “adult,” I’m talking about women in their 60’s and up. We’ve all retired from our jobs, children raised, grandchildren and great-grandkids abound. Some have buried husbands; some have outlived their children. Some are healthy and active, some struggle to walk to their seats.

So when I read Psalm 71, “A Prayer for Old Age,” I thought of us.

May I suggests there is never the right time to retire from serving God? The writer of this psalm seems to agree. Like the psalmist, so many of us have relied on God from birth. The Lord has been our hope and confidence since our youth. God has taught us since we were young, and we eagerly declare His wonderful deeds yet today.

We might not have the energy to teach the four-year-old Sunday School class every Sunday, or lead the youth group’s activities. But I hope your four-year-olds and your youth know who we are, and have heard our stories.

Please, Church, don’t attempt to put us on a shelf. (vs 9) Do not close your ears to the testimony of our years, do not make it “us against them.” In your attempt to be attractive to millennials, have you set aside the wisdom of the aged?

And to those of us gray-haired believers, let’s not allow our voices to be silenced. We have another generation to tell of God’s power and might. (vs 19). Let’s be faithful to do exactly that.

I Chronicles 22-25; Your Serve

I’m on the nominating committee at my church. We are given the responsibility to prayerfully consider our membership and fill all the committees that serve there. From ushers to finance, media to food service, evangelism and youth, we spend a great deal of time talking to people about how they can contribute to the smooth running of our church and its outreach. It’s been an education for me.

Some people are eager to fill positions, others glad to stay part of a committee they already serve. Some take days to pray about it, while others just don’t return calls or emails. Our deadline to submit our nominees for congregational approval is approaching, and I still have one position to fill. Maybe today.

I guess it’s not a surprise, then, that I thought about this as I read these chapters in I Chronicles. David is filling the committees for service at the temple. We don’t read that there was any hesitation on the part of the people. Doesn’t seem like any of them told David they were too busy to serve, or that God wasn’t leading them in that direction. Maybe they did, and we are just reading the completed list of committees as though when approached, all agreed to serve. But I doubt it.

Now I am not discounting busy schedules, or God’s leading. I’m not suggesting you don’t pray about it before committing your time, and in turn, your family’s time. Just don’t use God as an excuse to sit back and do nothing. Don’t make your laziness or disinterest sound spiritual by saying you need to pray about it, then not pray.

Because I can confidently say that if you are part of a church body, and I hope you are, there is something for you to do to keep it going. There is a committee you should be a part of, a responsibility that should be yours.

If you’re worried about a busy schedule, give that schedule to God and see how He can provide. If you think you don’t have what it takes to take on a particular position, let God show you what He can do when you submit to Him. If one committee or responsibility doesn’t fit into your wheelhouse, find another committee that does.

Get involved, dear one. Be a part of the great work God wants to do in your midst.

Your serve.