Tag Archives: service

September 18; Beneath Me

Nehemiah 1-4

There are a lot of things required for the effective running of a local church. Of course we need pastors, deacons, teachers, singers, song leaders, and musicians. We need cooks and childcare workers.

But we also need people who sweep floors, clean toilets, mow grass and pull weeds. We need people who visit the sick, and move furniture for widows. Not all jobs in a church are glamorous.

I’ve often said the book of Nehemiah might be my favorite book of the Old Testament. It’s a beautiful picture of what a church should look like. But I saw something today I don’t remember ever noticing before. 3:5 says:

The next section was repaired by the men of Tekoa, but their nobles would not put their shoulders to the work under their supervisors.

The thing that I love about Nehemiah’s book is how everyone chipped in and did their part in the building and repair of the wall around Jerusalem. Even some of the women got their hands dirty. But here we see the “nobles” refused to lend a hand.

Shame on them.

But as God often does when I begin to fill a little self-righteous and point my fingers at those obviously not doing the right thing, He places a hand on my shoulder. “Shame on who, Connie?” He seems to ask.

Have I declined a ministry I felt was beneath me? Am I too proud to work behind the scenes? Do I think someone less educated is better suited to some menial task than I who have gone to college? Am I afraid to get my designer clothes dirty?

Shame on me!

My thoughts went to Jesus. Was anything beneath my Savior? Was He ever too proud to get down and dirty with people who needed Him? Was He too dignified to be hanging on a cross stark naked?

If the God of the Creation stooped so low for me, there is nothing too low for me to do in response. I don’t want to be counted with the “nobles” we read about in Nehemiah who would not put their shoulders to the work. Count me in with Shalhum’s daughters, chipped and dirty fingernails and all.

I guess God may be speaking to me about this topic today as I get ready to serve on the Nominating Committee at my own local church. We will be talking to people about the various areas of service that keep our fellowship running smoothly. We will be asking people to consider serving on the food committee, the grounds committee, the congregational life committee, etc.

May we all remember that nothing done for the glory of God is beneath any of us. May I remember nothing done for God’s glory is beneath ME!

May 3; It’s Your Turn

Psalms 21, 51, 103; 2 Samuel 12:24-31, 8:2-8, 23:20a; I Chronicles 11:22a, 18:2-8

David’s guilt over his sin with Bathsheba, and the death of his son, seems to have paralyzed him for a time. Joab led the army into battle against Rabbah the Ammonite, and won a great victory. Then he sent a message to David, telling him in effect to get back to work.

The first thing that strikes me about this is that Joab could have turned this victory around and exalted himself. But he didn’t.

Along with that, I am reminded that fighting God’s enemy is not a one man job, nor is it about gaining notoriety for ourselves.¬†We are an army, each with gifts and responsibilities working together to accomplish God’s goal.

God’s goal.

I love that Joab went about caring out his own responsibilities, and that he confronted David for not doing his own. I love this picture that demonstrates that God has given each of us a job to do, one of which is holding each other accountable.

I remember Dad telling stories about being a Marine in WWII. He said it was frustrating when a Marine wasn’t doing his job. That one man, not pulling his weight, made it harder for the others to do their jobs, and often put a whole platoon in danger.

You are that important in our war against Satan.

Let me just say that if you are attending church on Sunday, and that’s all you do the rest of the week, it’s time you start pulling your weight. Your uninvolvement in this battle makes it harder for the rest and, frankly, puts the mission of the Church in jeopardy.

Let’s muster the troops – all of us who know Jesus as our Savior – and win this war. Let’s all of us be obedient to do the things God asks of us. Let’s get off our couches and get out there and talk to people about their Savior, ministering to the needs of people who need Him. Your pastor can’t do it all.

He’s not supposed to.

The reality is that other soldiers in God’s army have planted seeds. God is working in the hearts of sinners even right this minute. A battle or two have been won by others.

Now it’s your turn.

I Kings 17; Empty

I’ve heard the story of Elijah and the widow for as long as I can remember. In my mind’s eye, I can picture the figures on the flannel board in our Sunday School room. (When was the last time you even saw a flannel board? ūüôā ) The lesson we learned from this Scripture was: GOD SUPPLIES ALL OUR NEEDS.

I read what J. Vernon McGee had to say about this passage today, and he reminded me Elijah had just returned from the desert where God used ravens to feed him, a stream to meet his need for water. McGee pointed me to others who had similar experiences: Moses, Abraham, John the Baptist, Paul. Even Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness before beginning his ministry. GOD STRENGTHENS US IN TIMES OF TROUBLE.

Dr. McGee then talked about the miracle of the healing of the widow’s son. The boy had died. But when Elijah went to him, made contact with him three times, the boy lived again. GOD IS THE DIVINE HEALER.

Do you remember Jesus’ first miracle? The wedding in Cana of Galilee, right? He turned water into wine. GOD GIVES HIS VERY BEST.

Then J. Vernon challenged every lesson I thought I’d learned from these stories. While it is true that God provides what we need, that He is our strength, our healer, and that He does all things well, we miss something important if that’s all we see in these passages.

What does the never-ending flour pot, the desert, the dead boy, and the wine have in common?

NOTHING.

Well, not nothing. But an emptiness, a void, nothingness. The lessons are not just that God prepared people for ministry in the desert. It’s the desert.

It’s not only that God didn’t let the flour run out. It’s the empty pot.

It’s not raising a boy from the dead. It’s the dead boy.

And it was never about the wedding, or even just the wine. It was the empty jars.

All which were filled by God Himself. To make his point, Dr. McGee shared a story about Hudson Taylor. It’s lengthy, but I want to quote it from page 107 in Thru the Bible Commentary Series on 1st and 2nd Kings by J. Vernon McGee. (Thomas Nelson, Inc. 1991):

It is said of Hudson Taylor that when he prepared young missionaries for service in his mission, he insisted, “Remember that when you come out here you are nothing. It is only what God can and will do through you that will be worth anything.” One young missionary replied, “It is hard for me to believe that I am just nothing.” And Hudson Taylor said to him, “Take it by faith because it is true. You are nothing.” You and I are just dried up brooks unless the Word of God is flowing through us.

You, my friend are nothing. I am nothing. Neither of us has anything of value to offer God who owns everything, and who created everything anyway. And until we empty ourselves and allow God to fill us with Himself, we are worth nothing to Him, we cannot be used by Him.

Sorry if that offends your sensitive sense of self.

Paul said he died daily, that he was crucified with Christ, that he was dead to self. If you think you can effectively serve God any other way, you are wrong.

Empty yourself. Let Him fill you to overflowing.

Then stand back and be amazed at what God can and will do through you, for His sake, and for His glory!

Dear Filler of our souls, I pray that all of us reading this chapter in I Kings today will be challenged to BE that desert, that empty pot, that dead boy. Help us to empty ourselves of our hopes and dreams, our talents and our gifts, our egos and our rights. Then, Lord, fill us with YOU. May we be instruments in Your hands, clay in the hands of the Potter, and may You create in each of us pure hearts. Use us today as we yield to Your will. And may Jesus be glorified.

Numbers 31-33; A Godly Response to Serving God

The Midianites, children of Abraham through Keturah, had turned from God and were worshiping idols. God told Moses to take some men, and go and wipe out those disobedient people. So Moses sent 12,000 soldiers to war.

The Israelites were successful. 31:7 tells us they “killed all the males” just like God had told them to. They brought home the spoils of war: women, livestock, gold and jewels. Then they divided up everything among themselves and the entire population of Israel, and gave a percentage to the Levites. Well, except for the gold and jewels. They were allowed to keep those things for themselves.

God had blessed them for their obedience.

Here’s the lesson I gleaned from these verses today, beginning in verse 48: When the commanders had a chance to count their troops, they realized there’d been no casualties. 12,000 men went to war, and 12,000 men came home. They immediately went to Moses.

Now, they didn’t go to Moses to demand recognition, or an “attaboy” for doing great work out there on the battlefield. First of all, they came humbly, calling themselves “servants” not warriors or victors or nice guys. They didn’t go to Moses to report their accomplishments, or to point out their sacrifices in the line of duty.

They came to Moses to lay their gold and jewels at the feet of their God.¬†Scripture says they wanted to make¬†“atonement for their souls.”¬†God had spared their lives. They wanted Him to save their souls.

So many Jesus followers are busy doing great things in our churches and in our neighborhoods. Many spend hours preparing lessons, giving up vacations for mission work, visiting the sick, giving generously of our resources. We are on the battlefield every day, fighting this battle against the devil, and winning.

My question is, what is our attitude about all that? Are we working toward some pat on the back, some applause or recognition? Are we trying to convince God that He’s got a gem in us? Are we waiting for that blessing we’re sure we deserve?

God has given us life. God has taken our sins to the cross. God has forgiven us at a very high price. Our response can only be humility, and praise to the only One who deserves praise.

Our response to God when we are obedient, when we serve Him, should be like that of these Israeli soldiers. It’s a privilege to serve Him, and He deserves all that we are or have. And the bottom line isn’t what we do, as much as who we are in Him.

 

December 2 – Gifts And Service

I Corinthians 12-14

Do you know how important you are as a member of God’s Church? I hope you have attached yourself to a congregation of believers in a local church. That place offers an avenue of service that only YOU can fulfill.

“But,” you say, “I didn’t go to college. I can’t teach a Sunday School.”

Or, “I can’t carry a tune in a bucket. They wouldn’t want me in the choir.”

Or, “I can’t be on a visitation team. I wouldn’t know what to say.”

Paul, when talking about Spiritual gifts, says something we all need to hear. Look at 12:7:

But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. (emphasis mine)

To each one. That’s you. As a follower of Jesus, God has given YOU a gift to be used for His glory. We are all part of one body. But like Paul says, not everyone is an eye, thankfully. Not everyone is an ear. (That would just be weird) Some are fingers, toes, kidneys, eyelashes. And ALL are important. ALL are needed for a healthy body.

Don’t think God hasn’t gifted you. The Bible tells us He did. And your church – God’s Church – needs YOU to use what you’ve been given.

November 7 – The Many

Matthew 24

Jesus’ disciples asked Him what the signs would be announcing His second coming, and the “end of the age.” The Lord told them there would be people claiming to be Him, wars, famines, earthquakes.

He said life will be hard for His followers. They will experience tribulation, will be hated and killed because they follow Jesus. Some of His followers will fall away and turn on each other. They’ll be mislead by false teaching, and lawlessness will increase.

Was He describing 2016?

But then He said half of a verse that broke my heart. 24:12b:

most people’s love will grow cold.

The word “most” makes me sad. Makes me wonder how¬†many of the people who attended church yesterday would be able to say their love for God is the burning passion of their lives? Or is their love like that for a buddy? Comfortable, warm, but not consuming?

Also makes me wonder about the temperature of my own love of my Savior. Is it the driving force behind my every thought and action? Is it a passion that burns every minute of every day, that ignites me to serve Him with purposeful enthusiasm?

Jesus said that before He returns, MANY of His people’s hearts will turn cold toward Him. I do not want to be counted among the “many.”

October 20 – What Are You Waiting For?

Matthew 16; Mark 9; Luke 9:28-62

“I’ll follow you, Jesus, but I need to wait until my dad dies.” “I’ll follow you, Jesus, but first I need to go home and say goodbye.” (from Luke 9)

Jesus said that no one who follows Him with one eye always looking back is fit for His kingdom.

What is your excuse?

“I need to pay off my student loans before I take on a ministry.” “I need to wait until my kids are grown.” “I’m young. I want to have fun first.” “Just let me get this next promotion at work, then I’ll get involved in church.”

The other day God spoke to me about taking up my cross – His mission – and following Him. I don’t remember Him saying anything about waiting until I’m at a different place in life. I’m pretty sure He meant for me to get busy today.

I want to be fit for the kingdom of God, a warrior in His army, His voice to lost souls. I want to follow Him with a determined focus. No excuses.

If God has laid a person or a ministry on your heart, I only have one question for you:

What are you waiting for?