Tag Archives: serving God

(2 Kings 12) Integrity

Now here’s something you don’t see every day. Any day, really.

Let me set the scene:

Scripture tells us there were repairs going on in the temple. The contractors and workers were paid with silver that came into the temple by way of the offerings from worshipers. The high priest and his secretary weighed, then bagged the offering silver.

“Then they would give the weighed silver to those doing the work – those who oversaw the Lord’s temple. They in turn would pay it out to those working on the Lord’s temple – the carpenters, the builders, the masons, and the stonecutters – and would use it to buy timber and quarried stone to repair the damage to the Lord’s temple and for all expenses for temple repairs.” (12:11-13)

It sounds like it would have been an accounting nightmare, especially without spreadsheets and Microsoft Office on their computers.

But listen to this. This is what struck me today:

“No accounting was required from the men who received the silver to pay those doing the work, since they worked with integrity.” (vs 15, emphasis mine)

Have you ever had any remodeling done in your home? How did it go? You hire a contractor who hires workers to do the actual remodel, plumbers, painters, carpenters, tile workers. Or maybe the contractor actually does the work himself. Were you happy with the finished project? Was the job completed on time and within budget? Was the work done to your satisfaction? I bet some of you have horror stories.

Like my sister who, after she and her husband shelled out almost $30,000.00 for a remodeled bath and laundry room, continue to discover problems:

a toilet set too close to the wall

faulty (and dangerous) wiring

shower floor not caulked

closets without doors because they were mis-measured

a sump pump clogged with mortar dust because the worker emptied his bucket in the sump pump with water containing the dust from sanding the new drywall

Oh, there’s more. But you get the idea. My poor brother-in-law is outside digging a hole in their front yard, hoping to replace or reroute the pipe from the clogged sump pump before it rains today and ruins their new carpeting.

Integrity? I’m not seeing it here exactly. But here’s my point:

are any of us doing our jobs with integrity?

I play the organ at church. If I tell myself that if I hit a wrong note here and there no one will notice, am I playing with integrity?

If I teach a Sunday School and think, they’re just children so if I am not as prepared this week it’s no big deal, am I teaching with integrity?

Are you parenting with integrity? Are you working at your marriage with integrity? Representing Jesus with integrity? Driving your car, paying your taxes, being a neighbor, caring for your parents, serving on a committee at church, whatever… Are you working with integrity?

Do you need someone standing over you to make sure you are doing the job well and honestly? Or can they throw away the spreadsheets, like they did here in 2 Kings, because you do your work with integrity?

May each of us, no matter how big or small the task God gives us to do, be men and women with integrity. Then may we do the job as unto the Lord.

Integrity might be something we don’t see every day. But it should definitely be seen in you and me who know Jesus as our Savior.

Every day.

Use It! (I Corinthians 12-14)

Paul reminds me that being part of God’s Church isn’t like being a member of a country club or going to a matinee at the local theatre. Being part of a church means doing my part with the gifts and abilities God has given me.

It means working behind the scenes, or getting out there and teaching a Sunday School class. It means reaching out to visitors, or sitting quietly with a hurting brother or sister. It means being the Church, not just going to church.

I hope you’ll read this portion of Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth. I hope you’ll assess your abilities and talents, define what it is you enjoy doing. I hope you’ll discover your spiritual gifts God delights in giving His children.

Then I hope you will use what God has given you, and serve in your church fellowship in an orderly way, in a way that honors God and points people to the Savior. I hope you – and I – will be the Church God intends for us to be, His body with all the parts and pieces working together, reaching lost people for the glory of God.

Yes, M’Lord (Luke 17)

If you are a follower of Jesus, you most likely consider yourself a servant, someone who seeks to do whatever God asks of you. But as I read this passage in Luke’s Gospel today, I wondered if I, and maybe you, really understand what being a servant is all about.

Several years ago there was a TV show called Downton Abbey, about a rich and influential dynasty in England, and the many servants who worked for them. I thought about it today as I read. The servants employed by the fictional Crawley family took pride in serving that particular family. Their respect in the town was measured by the wealth and social standing of the family they served. And whether serving dinner for kings, or doing their grocery shopping in the village, they behaved in an impeccable way, knowing they represented the Crawley family.

Got me to thinking. If I, as God’s servant, serve Him with the same intentionality, pride, and fervor as the servants of Downton Abbey? Or do I approach my position as a servant of God like it’s a job?

I might give it my all from 9-5, but reserve some me-time, too. I might serve Him with the intention of getting what I believe is due me for my effort. Maybe I obey Him expecting health and wealth and recognition.

Jesus said this about serving:

Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Would you say to the servant when he comes in from the field, “Come along now and sit down to eat”? Would he not rather say, “Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink”? Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, “We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.” (verses 7-10; emphasis mine)

I would challenge us all to check our hearts as we consider these words of Jesus. What motivates each of us to obey God, to share the Gospel, to teach a Sunday School class or sing in the choir – to serve Him? What prompts us to have a pure vocabulary, to make choices that make us stand out in a fallen world?

If we aren’t serving God out of a heart overflowing with love and gratitude, recognizing that we represent Him in the town and in our homes, knowing that serving Him is a privilege and honor, and that He doesn’t owe us anything in return, then maybe we aren’t His servants after all. Maybe we’ve made Him our servant by expecting some reward or at least an easy go of life.

So, if after spending my day serving God, He prompts me to get off the couch in the evening and go at it again, I want only to say, “Yes, My Lord.” Then I want to serve Him with as much intention and fervor and humbleness as He deserves.

A Really Big Deal (Matthew 14; Mark 6; Luke 9)

It occurred to me today that when Jesus fed the five thousand, He used what was given Him. He took the meager portion of bread and fish, and made a meal of it for all the people. He didn’t add a salad or dessert. The meal they ate was a direct result of the food placed in Jesus’ hands.

Sometimes I think we are timid about serving God because we feel what we have is not enough. Or maybe we look at the gifts and abilities God has given us, and tuck them away because we think they are unimportant and insignificant compared to what others seem to have.

But how can you know what God can do with your offering unless you give it to Him? Who in their right mind would have looked at the hungry crowd, then at the five loaves and two fish, and thought: “This will do.” No one!

But placed in the hands of Jesus, it was more than enough.

What spiritual gifts have you been given as a result of your relationship with God? What abilities and talents were you born with? You might think they are no big deal. And you might be right in your own power. The disciples couldn’t feed that crowd on their own, either.

But place your gifts and abilities in Jesus’ hands and watch what a big deal He makes of them. Watch as He takes what you give Him and multiply it over and over. Watch how He takes you and uses you to feed, to nourish, to bless a multitude.

That’s a really big deal!

Snap To It (2 Samuel 19-21)

David gave Amasa a position of great power. “May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if from now on you are not the commander of my army in place of Joab.” (19:13) With that word, Amasa became the most powerful man in Israel, second only to King David.

But we really don’t read much about Amasa’s role as military leader. In fact, his first and only mission was an epic fail. And really, what David told him to do shouldn’t have been that difficult for the commander:

“Rally the troops! Get the men together and get back here in three days.”

Granted, they didn’t have phones back then. There was no texting or social media, no TV or even snail mail to get the message to soldiers sitting at home. I can see that it would take some coordinating effort and time to get the word out, then for the men to gather.

But Scripture tells us Amasa “took longer than David had set for him.” (20:5) So the king put the army under Abishai’s command, and set them out to battle instead. He wasn’t about to lose a war waiting for Amasa to do his job.

I don’t know why Amasa didn’t meet his deadline. Were the men resistant? Was he so inept he couldn’t get organized in time? Or did he simply not take David’s time frame seriously? Does is matter?

Well, I think it matters a great deal in my life. There are things my King would have me do in this war against His enemy. I’m wondering if I see my response to God in Amasa’s response to David.

God lays on my heart a person whose heart is ready to hear the Gospel. How quick am I to respond? Do I find myself thinking I’ll get around to it eventually? Do I tell myself I don’t know what to say? Do I shrink back at a little resistance? Do I not feel the same urgency God feels for that eternal soul?

God nudges me toward a ministry, toward teaching Bible study, toward serving in the nursery, or mowing my neighbor’s lawn. Do I snap to it? Or do I drag my feet, hoping maybe God was just making a suggestion?

In the account we read here in 2 Samuel, David appointed someone else to do Amasa’s job. And, seriously, there have been times when in the back of my mind I think if I don’t go, God is going to send someone else anyway. Whew! Ball’s in their court.

Amasa’s failure at the task that was given put him in a position that cost him his life. That’s a bitter pill to swallow. God may give my assignment to someone else, but there are consequences for blowing off the King.

Besides, I want to look at God’s commands, those nudges into service, as a privilege to serve my King. I love Him so much I want to obey with enthusiasm and do the best job at whatever He is asking me to do because He deserves my 100% effort. Why would I want anyone else to have the blessings that are mine as an obedient soldier in His army?

This is war. When my King gives me a command, I want to snap to it.

No, Thank You (2 Samuel 7; I Chronicles 17)

When you love someone, do you find you can’t do enough for that person? You sacrifice, take a back seat, go out of your way to find tangible ways to express how totally and completely you love them. You’d do anything.

I think that’s how David loved God.

But how do you feel when the person you love politely tells you, “No, thank you,” when they don’t accept the gift, or tell you they don’t want your sacrifice?

David was excited about building a beautiful temple for the Presence of God. The ark had been housed in a tent, and David wanted to build a house fit for the King of Kings. Nothing would be too extravagant for the One David loved.

I imagine old David stayed awake at night, going over floor plans, arranging furniture, placing and re-placing doors and windows in his mind’s eye. It was the least David could do for the God who meant so much to him. I think David was excited about the possibilities.

But God politely refuse the offer. David heard His Beloved say, “No, thank you.”

David’s response? “Ok. Thanks.”

You see, David’s love for God wasn’t about David. David wasn’t looking for recognition or appreciation. He wasn’t looking to make a name for himself as the builder of God’s Temple. The gift David wanted to give God was totally and completely about God. So when God refused to accept it, David didn’t take it personally. It wasn’t personal.

Makes me question my offering to God, my service to Him, my sacrifice for Him. Am I motivated by what blessings are mine when I do great things for Him? Do I put God under obligation to do something great for me in return? If that is the case, then I will be disappointed, hurt, maybe jealous when I don’t get what I think I deserve.

But if my service to God is like David’s, I’ll continue to serve, to give God my very best, to find tangible ways to show Him how much I love Him with no regard for myself, no selfish agenda. I will be just a woman who can’t do enough to show my Beloved how much I love Him, even if He politely refuses my offer or accepts my actions without giving back in-kind.

I want to, like David, give it all to God without expecting some big reward. Because the reality is, God has already given me much more than I deserve.

He gave me Jesus, the tangible expression of His amazing love. And believe me, that is one Gift you’ll never hear me say, “No, thank you,” to!!!

Choose Who and How Today (Joshua 22-24)

Choose today who you will serve.

My mother underlined Joshua 22:5 in her Bible. This is what it says:

But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you; to love the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to obey his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and all your soul.

We can choose to serve God, but we have to understand that we cannot serve Him on our own terms, by what makes us feel good, or what is easy. If we choose to serve God, we must also choose how we serve him. Because God does not accept unauthorized fire. (Leviticus 10)

According to Joshua, choosing to serve God means choosing to:

  1. Love God. Jesus Himself said this is the greatest commandment.
  2. Walk in His ways. Makes me think about the fruit of the spirit. Do I walk in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? It also reminds me that walking in the footsteps of Jesus means taking sin very seriously, in my life and in the lives of those around me.
  3. Obey His commands. The Ten Commandments are still the measure of holiness God expects of all of us. Yes, we are incapable of obeying not only the letter of the law, but also the spirit of the law. Yet we are commanded to obey. To do otherwise is to sin.
  4. Hold fast to Him. As a Christian, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. But I must realize that my distance from Him is determined by sin in my life. If I want to hold fast to God, I need to recognize sin and repent of it.
  5. Serve Him with all our hearts and all our souls. God isn’t interested in servants that simply go through the motions, servants who are faithful on Sunday yet ignore Him on Monday. You can’t serve God if your loyalties are divided. When He says “all” our hearts and souls, He means it. 100%.

So with Joshua I am asking us to choose today who we will serve. Ourselves? Our families? A religion? A career? Or will we choose to serve God today?

Then, I am asking us all to consider how we will serve? Are you all in? Am I? I pray we can all answer that with a resounding YES!

 

December 27; Don’t Forget

Revelation 2-5

God has some amazing things to tell us through John’s letter to the seven churches. In them He addresses each of us, and challenges us in our walk with Him.

To Ephesus God addresses those of us who are busy serving God, doing good work, keeping on keeping on. But something is missing. The busyness has overshadowed our first love, that love we knew when we were first cleansed from sin. God warns that without that fervent love for Him, our service to Him will lose its effectiveness.

DON’T FORGET WHY WE SERVE.

To Smyrna God speaks to those of us going through difficult circumstances. There are some people in our world today who suffer imprisonment and even death because they serve God. Others of us face unfair treatment, slander, rejection. Don’t be afraid, God tells us. He is the One who died and came back to life. That second death can’t hurt us.

DON’T FORGET WHO WE SERVE.

To Pergamum God has a word for us who live in a fallen world where sin runs rampant and evil surrounds us. Stay true to His Name. Don’t let the teachings of Satan creep into our hearts, no matter how popular the lies become. Know the Truth according to Scripture. Repent if you’ve deviated from that Truth. It’s serious business to accept the lies.

DON’T FORGET WHAT IS TRUE.

To Thyatira, God addresses those of us trying to live in two worlds, that of Christianity, and that of immorality. As Christians we help our neighbors, express love, and are people of faith. But we also tolerate immorality, even to the point of believing immorality is not sin. Some of us actually participate in immoral conduct, even if it is only in the privacy of our homes in front of a screen. God tells us there are serious consequences for that. Hold on, God tells us. Don’t give in!

DON’T FORGET HOW WE ARE TO LIVE.

To Sardis we hear a warning to those of us simply going through the motions. Oh, we do Christian sounding things, say Christian sounding words, but our hearts are dead. God tells us our deeds are only half done if that’s the case. “Walk with me,” God pleads. “Obey. Repent.” There is life in Christ.

DON’T FORGET WHAT YOU HAVE RECEIVED.

To Philadelphia God speaks to those of us who are feeling weak. Maybe it seems our efforts are in vain, that we have no place in ministry But God also commends us for being true to His Name, for serving patiently, perhaps quietly. If God opens a door of opportunity, He will bless our obedience. Again He encourages us to hold on!

DON’T FORGET WHO LOVES US.

To Laodicea God addresses we who are lukewarm Christians. We are pretty self-assured, happy to be saved from hell, but not wanting God meddling in our lives. God says we make Him sick. He tells us to earnestly repent. “Knock,” He says. “I’ll come in and fellowship with you and you with Me!”

DON’T FORGET WHO IS AT THE DOOR.

There is so much in the book of Revelation for us in 2019 concerning our relationship with God. I’m looking forward to ending the year listening to what He will say to me, getting to know Him better, and to growing my walk with Him into something useful for His kingdom. I hope you’ll join me.

December 16; Women Teachers

Philippians 3-4; I Timothy 1-2

I am a teacher. And I am a woman. And years ago I taught a Sunday School class of women… and men. But knowing that, my take on the subject might surprise you.

I recently was part of a conversation with some friends about whether or not women should be allowed to teach men in the church. I honestly can say I see both sides of the argument.

On one hand, Paul said he didn’t permit women to teach. On the other hand he didn’t say God gave him that order. On one hand there were women like Miriam, Deborah, and Anna described as prophets. On the other hand I don’t believe there is an instance when these women, or any other women, took part in the actual teaching of their prophecies during Temple worship. On one hand we see Priscilla teaching Apollos the truth about Jesus. On the other hand, she went with her husband to meet with Apollos privately, her teaching was not public.

On one hand we hear Paul say women should be silent in church. On the other hand, we understand the climate of the day and, in context, could interpret that as saying women shouldn’t interrupt the service by asking questions, rather than forbidding them to be the teacher. But, like one of my friends said, who determines which Scriptures we should blow off because of context, and which Scriptures should be applied today?

Besides, in the same paragraph Paul says he wants women to dress modestly without braided hair or jewelry, and he wants men to pray with their hands raised. Yet I don’t hear those things being talked about nearly as much as the phrase, “women should be silent.”  And it’s all part of what Paul is talking about in I Timothy.

Here’s the thing: I don’t think the issue is a matter of heaven or hell. Even though I spent a year as a teacher of a co-ed Sunday School class, I still prefer a man behind the pulpit. I see in Scripture that God places a hierarchy in the church, and He put men in positions of authority over women. It doesn’t mean women are less than men, or not as important in ministry. Jesus had a lot of women disciples who enhanced His early ministry by their support. I don’t think He’d describe them as less-than or unimportant.

I love teaching. And having the privilege of teaching women is such a blessing to me. If  I never teach another co-ed Sunday School class, I’d be ok with that, but I am not apologetic for teaching a co-ed class in the past. I guess I would say according to God’s hierarchy, men should teach men. But I really don’t think a man will be punished for sitting in a classroom taught by a woman.

Let me say something to men. Some of you need to step up. Sometimes, as was the case that year I taught Sunday School, the number of men willing to take on that responsibility is lacking. If God has given you the gift of teaching, you need to be teaching. Period.

And women, there are so many ways we can use our own gifts of teaching. Are you being obedient?

I pray for teachers of God’s Truth. It is a heavy responsibility. But it is also a glorious privilege. May we all, men and women, be sensitive to the Spirit’s leading not just in who we teach, but what and how we teach it. That’s the issue. I said earlier the “who” of who we teach is not a matter of heaven or hell. But the WHAT we teach is.

May God find us faithful.

 

 

October 26; Second Fiddle

John 11:17-57; Mark 10:32-52; Luke 18:31-34; Matthew 20:17-28

Do you ever read something in the Bible and think, “Wow. This is totally opposite of the wisdom of the day?” That’s what happened to me today.

We in the 21st Century are told to look out for number one, to tell ourselves we are strong and powerful and capable and perfect just the way we are. And we are teaching our children to believe they are those things, too.

On the surface that might sound like wisdom. But in God’s economy, it’s foolishness. In the passages we read today, God explains His economy and you might not like what He says:

“The last will be first.”

“Whoever wants to become great, must be a slave to all.”

(I don’t see those slogans on many t-shirts these days)

I went to my cousin’s funeral yesterday, and heard the account of a servant, a woman who was a selfless friend, whose house was always open and throw-together meals were commonplace (and she often used her gold-trimmed china for impromptu entertaining). She could sit for hours with a hurting neighbor without thought for her own comfort.

She’d taught music for nearly 60 years, and especially loved teaching young children how to play the violin. We heard of incidents when Beth Joy would go out of her way to take a student home after lessons, or drive them to performances, or how she would provide violins for children who couldn’t afford one.

But what impressed me most about my cousin was something I hadn’t realized. I knew she played in two large symphony orchestras, one in Ohio then one in Charlotte, NC when she and her husband moved there. But what I didn’t realize is that for over 40 years, Beth Joy played second violin.

As a musician myself, that speaks to me. And I was reminded of it today as I read what Jesus said to His disciples about “number one.”

The great orchestral conductor, Leonard Bernstein when asked what the most difficult instrument was to play said, “The second fiddle. I can get plenty of first violinists, but to find someone who can play the second fiddle with enthusiasm – that’s a problem, and if we have no second fiddle, we have no harmony.”

Beth Joy played second fiddle with enthusiasm. She was the harmony in the life of her family, friends, and students. Why? Because she was a tireless servant of her Lord, Jesus Christ. At 80 years of age, she was still teaching children how to play the violin up to six weeks before she died.

I am challenged today to enthusiastically play the position of second fiddle for Jesus’ sake and for His glory. One thing people kept saying yesterday was that Beth always pointed people to her Savior. It was never about her. It was always about Jesus.

What a privilege it is to play second fiddle in God’s economy, His orchestra called the Church. It’s not about me. It is always about Jesus.