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Posts Tagged ‘Servant’

We always know when Jesus is at work because 

He produces in the commonplace something that is inspiring. (1)

Yesterday after teaching a class on Living in the Spirit, for the Men’s Recovery program at the Rockford Rescue Mission, I was feeling a bit of smug pride that I had taught so well.

As my students departed one of them came forward saying, “Here’s the way I see it!”  He erased a portion of my scribbled drawings, add a few lines and circles of his own.  By doing so, he illuminated the teaching of scripture in a better way.

Oswald Chambers speaks of the ministry of the unnoticed when he comments on Jesus’ teaching, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” (2)

In the past (and I am certain, into the future), I have prided myself on my ministry to the unnoticed.  In a quiet and humble way, I want others to notice when I am ministering to the unnoticed.

But this is not what Jesus was teaching.  He was teaching something much deeper, richer, more profound.

The poor in spirit are a blessing because they draw attention to God and not to themselves when they minister to others in simple commonplace ways.

Big things draw attention, but it is the little things which change the world.

The servant of Christ is never bigger than the person he serves!

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  1. Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest: Selections for the Year (Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering, 1986).
  2. Matthew 5:3.
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Today is Maundy Thursday.  On this day Jesus gathered with his disciples to celebrate the Passover.  At dinner he instituted The Lord’s Supper with his disciples.  Both of these events celebrate God’s gracious love for us as His children.

Jesus knew He would be betrayed and arrested that evening after His last supper with His disciples.  Instead of talking about His greatness, He showed His greatness in what he did for His disciples at dinner.

As you prepare to worship this evening, think about what Jesus did for His disciples that evening.

It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.

The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus.  Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” 

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

Jesus answered, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.”  For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them.

“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.  Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.  I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.  I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.  Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” (1)

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  1. The Holy Bible: New International Version, electronic ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996),  John 13:1–17.

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The Bride of Christ isn’t a very good mother!” (1)

This is one of those accusations that gets my attention and causes my hair to stand up on my neck.  The charge is clear, “The Church does not take care of her own!”

It is bad enough when the church does not take care of anyone in need, but to ignore her own is an abomination.

Too frequently the church, Christ’s bride, is guilty of withholding a helping hand.  

A story remains impressed upon my heart.

One day after class when I was teaching in a Men’s Recovery Program at a local mission a student asked if he could talk with me briefly after class.  I had been teaching for 6 weeks wondering if anyone was listening to my lectures about Jesus and being faithful.  

After everyone left, he closed the classroom door and told me about a burden on his heart. 

One of the other men in the program who had overcome his addiction and committed his life to Christ had a problem.  The roof of his house was leaking and winter was coming.  A contractor had agreed to provide free labor if someone else would provide shingles.  They needed $3200 to purchase the shingles.  He wanted to know if the church I served would help.

When I told him I would ask the church board if they would help with the expense, this middle aged gentleman began to cry. 

I quickly clarified that I would ask the board, but that did not mean they would agree to help.  He shook his head acknowledging what I said as tears continued to roll down his cheeks.

He then explained, ”Your willingness to ask has saved my faith in God!”  

He went on to explain that the previous two Sundays, after the men in the recovery program had sung and testified to their faith in Christ at the two largest and wealthiest churches in town, he had approached the Pastors of those churches for help.  Both Pastors told him, “We do not do things like that.  It’s too much money for us!” Without another word they both turned and walked away from him.

Their responses crushed his heart and weakened his young faith.

He was grateful I was willing to ask the church I serve to help.  “This was all I needed to know, that a minister cared enough to ask.  I know it’s a lot of money.  I am not expecting you to provide all we need, anything will help!”

I was thankful when the board of the church I serve said “YES!”  Two weeks later, immediately prior to the first snow, the roof of his friend’s house was replaced.

How would Jesus answer you, if you asked Him this question?

“Lord, when did I see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?” (2)

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  1. Jim L. Wilson, Fresh Start Devotionals (Fresno, CA: Willow City Press, 2009).
  2. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Matthew 25:44.

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You are slaves of the one whom you obey

Romans 6:16

We are all slaves either by choice or by default.

You have either chosen your Master or been chosen by a Master.

I have chosen to write a Daily Devotional as part of my my ministry.  I have been traveling the past 4 days.  Finding time to read and write has been difficult. I could have chosen to skip writing this week, but I can not. I have chosen to be a slave to this commitment.  I do regret my decision.

Addicts are slaves to their addictions.  While their addiction began as a choice, it quickly became a bondage, which they eventually regretted.

Most of us are repulsed by the concept of being slaves.  We prefer to be called servants.  Being a servant denotes a sense of freedom of choice.  Being a slave connotes being in bondage.

In the Bible the words for slave and servant are used interchangeably.  A servant freely chooses his bondage.

Jesus recognized that He was both servant and slave:

To be great you must be a servant, and to be be first you must be a slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, to give his life as a ransom for many.  (Matthew 20:26-28)

Jesus bound Himself to His decision to die for our sins.  He could not walk away because He had bound Himself into His Master’s service.

This is why He did not defend Himself when falsely accused.  This is why He went to the cross in silence.  This is why He remained a servant, washing His disciples feet hours before they all betrayed and denied Him.

His enslavement led to His death and our life.

Many are enslaved to things which lead to death, rather than life.

In fact, there is only one enslavement which leads to life.  That is the decision to bind yourself to the Lord God, to Jesus.

Being in service to God is not easy.  Jesus proved this.  Joshua chose to serve God even while recognizing that, like every Master, He is a holy and jealous God. (Joshua 24:19)

Choose your Master carefully.

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Go into the streets and alleys of the town …

Go out to the roads and country lanes …

Like 14: 21 and 23

Linsanity is sweeping the nation.

Ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s has released a new ice cream flavor in honor of Jeremy Lin, the out-of-the-blue star point guard for the New York Knicks.

My advice for Jeremy Lin is to remain humble and ordinary.  He will be of greater use to God once his 15 minutes of fame has expired.

One of my dreams in to publish a book.  The fear accompanying my dream is that 3 months after the book is published no one will buy it, even after Barnes and Noble puts it on the Sidewalk Sale Table, listed at 99% off.

Do you dream about being famous, but know you never will be?

Perhaps you are very dissatisfied with yourself. You are not a genius, have no distinctive gifts, and are inconspicuous when it comes to having any special abilities. Mediocrity seems to be the measure of your existence. None of your days are noteworthy, except for their sameness and lack of zest. (1)

Do not let your lack of fame bother you.

God likes ordinary people.  No one in the Bible was every famous before God used them for His purposes.

Ordinary people are the ones who do great things for God.  Even if the world does not notice you, God does.

George Matheson had the right attitude:

“For my part, I will be satisfied not to have some great tombstone over my grave but just to know that common people will gather there once I am gone and say, ‘He was a good man, he told me about Jesus.’” (1)

It is better to stand in the shadow of Jesus, than for Jesus to stand in your shadow.

Jesus is the light of the world, let Him cast your shadow.

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  1. Reimann, Jim; Cowman, Mrs. Charles E. (2008-09-02). Streams in the Desert: 366 Daily Devotional Readings (p. 87). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

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It is God who works in you for his good pleasure.

Philippians 2:13

I do not believe we have even begun to understand the wonderful power there is in being still. We are in such a hurry, always doing, that we are in danger of not allowing God the opportunity to work.

This is our problem regarding the Christian life: we want to do something to be Christians, instead of allowing Him to work in us.

Think of how still you stand when your picture is being taken, as the photographer captures your likeness on film. God has one eternal purpose for us: that we should be “conformed to the likeness of his Son” (Rom. 8:29). But in order for that to happen, we must stand still.

Reimann, Jim; Cowman, Mrs. Charles E. (2008-09-02). Streams in the Desert: 366 Daily Devotional Readings (p. 62). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Some saints cannot do menial work and remain saints 

because it is beneath their dignity.

Are you willing to be offered for the work of the faithful, to pour out your life blood as a libation on the sacrifice of the faith of others? Or do you say, ‘I am not going to be offered up just yet, I do not want God to choose my work. I want to choose the scenery of my own sacrifice.

Suppose God wants to teach you to say, “I know how to be abased” are you ready to be offered up like that? Are you ready to be not so much as a drop in a bucket, to be so hopelessly insignificant that you are never thought of again in connection with the life you served?

Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest : Selections for the Year (Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers, 1993).

Letting God Use You, Is a Will-Full Decision

“I am now ready to be offered.” It is a transaction of will, not of sentiment. Tell God you are ready to be offered; then let the consequences be what they may.

Go through the crisis in will, then when it comes externally there will be no thought of the cost. If you do not transact in will with God along this line, you will end in awakening sympathy for yourself.

Tell God you are ready to be offered, and God will prove Himself to be all you ever dreamed He would be.

Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest : Selections for the Year (Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers, 1993).

God Can Only Use the Weak

Now the question has suggested itself to me as to whether those who are consciously led of the Spirit of God are emptied of self by Him, and left with no consciousness of strength of their own whatever, in order that He may fill them with His fullness.

When God works in a soul, the soul itself always works in “fear and trembling,” because He totally takes away from it that sense of its own strength.

When we do a thing from our own idea that it would be a good thing to do, we do it with great confidence and a feeling of strength. It’s is then our work and God’s work through us.

Hannah Whitall Smith and Melvin Easterday Dieter, The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life : The Unpublished Personal Writings of Hannah Whitall Smith (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

God’s work is accomplished

when we use the resources He has given to us. 

Martin Luther

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Everything exists for the purpose of glorifying God.

 What is the chief end and purpose of mankind?

To glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.


He cannot bless us unless He has us.

For it is not so much of our time and so much of our attention that God demands; it is not even all our time and all our attention; it is ourselves. For each of us the Baptist’s words are true: “He must increase and I decrease.”

He will be infinitely merciful to our repeated failures; I know no promise that He will accept a deliberate compromise. … What cannot be admitted, what must exist only as an undefeated but daily resisted enemy, is the idea of something that is “our own,” some area in which we are to be “out of school,” on which God has no claim. For He claims all, because He is love and must bless

C. S. Lewis (2009-03-17). A Year with C. S. Lewis (p. 38). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition

 

The Master never used a more unfit and wretched instrument 

to do His work than when He used me

In fact I know He never did; and I don’t wonder that He has laid me aside. If He needs me He will use me again someday, and meanwhile I trust He will fashion me into a vessel a little better fitted for His service.

Self has a thousand voices that assume the appearance of divine ones, and the heart that has any regard left for it is easily deceived. But let the soul lose absolutely all concern for self; let it be indifferent to its reputation; careless of its honor; inattentive to its ease.

Hannah Smith Hannah Whitall Smith and Melvin Easterday Dieter, The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life : The Unpublished Personal Writings of Hannah Whitall Smith (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

 

God makes us broken bread and poured-out wine to please Himself.

Discipleship has an option with it—“IF any man …”  Paul’s words have to do with being made a servant of Jesus Christ, and our permission is never asked as to what we will do or where we will go.

God makes us broken bread and poured-out wine to please Himself. To be “separated unto the gospel” means to hear the call of God; and when a man begins to overhear that call, then begins agony that is worthy of the name. Every ambition is nipped in the bud, every desire of life quenched, every outlook completely extinguished and blotted out, saving one thing only—“separated unto the gospel.” … Beware of competitors when God does grip you.

Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest : Selections for the Year (Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers, 1993).

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