Tag Archives: serving God

May 25; But Then Monday Comes

I Kings 8:62-9:28; Psalm 132; 2 Chronicles 7:4-8:18, 9:21

Solomon’s Temple was completed, and busy with activity. But Solomon didn’t just sit back and enjoy the fruit of his labor. He built a house for his wife, built and rebuilt cities, conquered other cities, built ships and financed mining expeditions, and he observed all the feasts and Sabbaths of the Lord.

Have you ever been involved in a project that required long hours and hard work, decision making, and overseeing workers? The job is complete, you step back with a sense of accomplishment and euphoria. You drink in the accolades, and have a wonderful sense of well deserved satisfaction.

But then Monday comes.

Have you ever been on a retreat or at a conference where your heart soared in worship, you were encouraged, uplifted, and challenged? You leave there excited to be a child of God, and excited about what He is doing in your life.

But then Monday comes.

Life is full of ups and downs. Some people are driven to live in a state of euphoria, some others experience  the down times and can’t seem to pull themselves up. Because when Monday comes, when things settle down and the day-to-day happens, you are the only one changed. The demands of the day are the same as always. The attitudes of people around you are the same as they were. And you have some choices to make.

The same is true in our walk with the Lord. Sometimes God brings us through valleys, and sits us up on that mountaintop. He is so real to us we feel like we could reach out and touch Him. We look around with His eyes of love, and see this wonderful world He created. But it’s unrealistic to think we can stay there. Because Satan is gearing up for round two.

Sometimes our walk with the Lord feels distant. We don’t feel blessed, or even heard. We try, and try, but nothing changes. I think that is a tragic place to live.

God seems to be encouraging me, through Solomon’s example, to keep going. There is always something to be doing for God’s Kingdom, always people to minister to, phone calls and visits to make, people who need to hear what Jesus did for them. Sometimes you have to get off the mountain to meet people where they are. And sometimes you have to let God drag you out of the pit, and into the lives of others.

Solomon enjoyed the celebration of the Temple’s completion. But when Monday came, he started another project, then another. I am reminded that the work of the Church, the effort to make disciples, to minister to hurting people will never be done until God calls us home or Jesus returns. We’ll have our ups and downs, our victories and defeats. But when Monday comes around, where will we be?

Besides, no matter if we are basking in the satisfaction of a job well done, or struggling to keep our heads up, we have reason to lay it all aside and praise God. Solomon did.

My prayer is that we all will be exactly where God leads us, busy working, continually praising Him, for His sake and His glory. And one day, when we look into those eyes, we’ll hear our Savior say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” And we’ll have lived our last Monday.

 

May 19; What if?

I Kings 2:13-3:28; 2 Chronicles 1:1-13; Psalm 72

How would you describe God? What do you believe about Jesus and the cross? In your experience, would you say the Bible is absolutely true, mostly true, a book of suggestions for living, or a book of fiction? The answers to those questions will determine your answer to the following:

If God promised He would give you anything you asked of Him, what would you say?

Solomon heard God say, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” Can you even imagine? Solomon replied, “Give me whatever I need to accomplish Your will.”

Solomon understood who God is. He understood that nothing is more important than being a servant God deserves. Solomon not only wanted to do what God asked of him, he wanted to do it well, with his efforts empowered by God.

What if God told you you could have anything you want? Would you ask for health? Happiness? World peace?

Or do you love Him enough, fear Him enough, desire to serve Him enough to make your request about Him? Not my will, but Thine be done.

How would you describe God?

 

May 16; How Far Will It Go?

I Chronicles 6:31-53, 25:1-26:32

I love that the names of the men assigned tasks in the ministry of the temple (not even built yet) are listed here. Most of these men are unknown, regular guys – except for this one thing. Most of these men aren’t listed with kings, or warriors, or prophets. Yet their names are being read today, thousands of years after they’ve gone.

Why?

They served God.

I also love the fact that so many fathers and sons worked side by side in their ministries. I would think nothing could be sweeter for Christian parents than to have their children serving God alongside them. What a blessing that must be!

There is something else that I noticed here in these lists: Accountability.

All these men were assigned duties, and with that we read about the supervision of their fathers, or the commanders, or those who were “in charge.” All the men were given jobs, but none of them did their “own thing.” Even those with authority still answered to the king.

This is a great picture of the inner workings of the Church, isn’t it? Ordinary people working shoulder-to-shoulder in various ministries, some with the responsibility to oversee, to ensure the works gets done to the glory of God, and ultimately, all are accountable to the King of Kings.

You and I might be just regular people, working behind the scenes in ministry of some kind. We might never be lauded or applauded in this lifetime. The men whose names we read today probably weren’t, either. But here we are so many years later, talking about them. I guess we’ll never know how far-reaching our obedience in ministry will go, either.

May 11; Is Quitting An Option?

2 Samuel 16:16-7:23; Psalms 28, 39, 41-43

Remember David, while ignoring Absalom’s sin, welcomed his murderous son back home with open arms? We’re reading today what occurred as a result. Dad’s acceptance, love, positive parenting resulted in the son’s takeover and attempt to kill his father. Absalom moved into the palace, and had sex with David’s concubines in a very public way.

Now David is running for his life. Running from the son he had neglected to discipline. Absalom showed no fear, no respect, only contempt for his indulgent father.

I believe this is something all parents need to hear. Yes, I know not all indulgent parents are disrespected and held in contempt by their children. But as a middle school counselor, I saw way too many that were. I’m praying for parents today.

There is something else in this story that got my attention. A man named Ahithophel was in Absalom’s inner circle. In fact, he was the one who advised Absalom to have sex with David’s concubines as a show of power. Absalom took that advice. Must have made Ahithophel feel pretty powerful himself.

But not for long. He gives Absalom another bit of advice. This time Absalom goes another route, rejecting Ahithophel’s advice. Ahithophel’s reaction to this rejection is drastic. He goes home, writes his will, and kills himself.

Have you ever had an idea, then come to find out you were the only person that thought it was a good idea? Have you ever wanted your family, or your workplace, or your church to do something, only to have them go another direction? Most of us have been disappointed, frustrated, maybe even angry when things don’t go like we think they should, especially when we know ours was the “right” way.

What do you do? Do you quit, pack up your things and hit the road? Or do you put your efforts into the plan and help it succeed, believing the goal is more important than your ego? “It’s the principle of the thing,” often masks an “I’ll show them,” mentality. Because if they crash and burn, someone might recognize how superior your way would have been. People might think yours was the right plan after all. Told you so!

I’ve heard of people walking away from family over how an inheritance was spent, others who bounce from job to job because they can’t work with “idiots” who don’t listen to their ideas. I’ve heard of people leaving their churches over silly things like carpet selection. “I want green. They chose blue. See ya.”

God is asking me to look at my commitment. Is my service to Him based on feelings, motivated by what I gain? If I always make everything about me, I’ll continue to be disappointed, frustrated, and angry.

If serving God is the most important thing, if my focus is truly on Jesus, what does it matter if Johnny spends his inheritance on fancy cars instead of investing it like I told him to? Isn’t Johnny more important than my advice?

Maybe that project at work really needed that other person’s suggestion, and maybe your support of it will be noticed by your bosses much more than if you’d gotten your way. Or not. But if the project is a success, isn’t that good for the company and your job, too? Why would you want it to fail?

If I am serving God out of a grateful heart for what He has done for me, why should the color of the church carpet be a deal breaker? Is the church serving me or God? Besides, if I’m looking down at the carpet, can I be looking toward heaven, too? Where are my priorities?

Ahithophel quit. His pride prevented him from serving after his suggestion was rejected. Seems he over-reacted. But so have I sometimes. Not, of course, to the extent Ahithophel went. But there have been times I’ve let my pride get in the way of my service. God forgive me.

Let’s keep our eyes on Jesus. Let’s understand that our opinions are opinions that others might not share. But let’s not quit just because we get our feelings hurt. Instead, let’s dive in and work shoulder to shoulder with others who share the same goal – serving God.

Is quitting an option? I hope not.

April 29; Go Home And Bless Your Family

2 Samuel 6:12-23; I Chronicles 15-16; Psalm 15

What is worship? That’s been a hot topic for the last 30+ years since the “contemporary” movement burst on the scene. If you’ve been with me very long, you know my take on that, and honestly, I’ve sat here for quite a while trying to look for something else to talk about today. But God isn’t letting this one go.

The example of worship here in 2 Samuel and I Chronicles is that of a rocking worship service. However, remember, so is I Chronicles 13 and 2 Samuel 6, and God was not pleased with that one. It’s an example of disobedient worship that looks an awfully lot like worship that God accepts. So what’s the difference?

First, I don’t believe it has anything to do with what songs were being sung. I say that because both accounts tell us they were celebrating with song, singing joyful songs. The truth is, as I see it, hymns can be as worshipful as praise songs.

Second, I don’t think it has anything to do with the musical instruments being played. Both examples tell us the worshipers played lyres and harps. I believe an organ can be as worshipful as a bass guitar.

The worship looked very much alike in these two accounts. So, again, what was the difference?

I think a huge difference between these worship services is obedience. It wasn’t the worship production. It was the heart of the people. It wasn’t how they looked while worshiping, it was their obedience to God that made the difference.

The other thing I see as a difference between the two examples of worship here in the Old Testament, and maybe the most important difference, is found in I Chronicles 16:43. After his time of worship, David went home to bless his family. He didn’t bask in the euphoria of a worship experience, then walk away unaffected. He took his experience and put it to work.

Dear one, if you are going to church on Sunday mornings for a worship experience, stay home. Go to a movie to be entertained. Worship does not end at the last “Amen.”

If you aren’t involved every day in some kind of ministry, in some kind of witnessing, and in living a Christ-like life on Monday, why are you worshiping? Do you think God needs your words, or is edified by your soaring emotions once a week?

The purpose of our church services is not to make us feel good, but to edify us, strengthen us, and equip us to go home and bless our families, our neighbors, our co-workers, the uttermost parts of the world.

I hope you worshiped God yesterday with a fellowship of believers. I hope your emotions were touched. But I pray that you learned something about God, that you were encouraged in your faith, that you were challenged and changed.

Now, get out there and bless someone.

April 12; Demoted

I Samuel 10:1-13:22

I don’t think I’ve ever really considered the fact that when Samuel anointed Saul king of Israel, he was actually passing the torch. Samuel had been Israel’s leader, the most powerful man in the country. No wonder he felt rejected. He kind of was.

God reminded him the bigger picture was that Israel was rejecting God. But for Samuel, I’m sure its looked like – and felt like- they were rejecting him.

So now I’m looking at Samuel as a “lame duck,” a former president, a pastor asked to step down and serve as associate pastor instead. I’m looking at Samuel as someone who has been demoted.

What I notice is his support of Saul. I see him obeying God, even though it might have been hard. What I don’t see is resentment. When the people (who had fired him) asked him to pray for them – he did. He continued to represent God, to teach them right from wrong, and encouraged them to follow God.

I had been a middle school choir director when I got another position within the school district. I remember having to step back and watch someone else step into that position and take the choirs that had been mine.

I can honestly say I wanted her to succeed. I wanted those kids to do well, and develop their abilities and love what they were doing. But I will also confess that there was a tiny part of me, deep inside, that secretly hoped people would think she wasn’t quite as good as me. I have never said that out loud to anyone. Right now I’m ashamed of myself.

I was excited about my new job. It came after years of preparation, and it really wasn’t a demotion. But with this new position, I was demoted from choir director to spectator. I no longer had control over song choice, rehearsals, accompaniment, tempo…

And I struggled with all of that.

I don’t know if you’ve ever had the rug pulled out from under you, but relinquishing power is not easy for most of us. Giving up control might look like a job reassignment, being a step-parent, sharing the responsibilities of teaching a Sunday School class, not being reelected to the deacon board…

How do we handle it when we lose a position of power? I want to be like Samuel. He prayed. He didn’t waiver in his first responsibility – that of serving God. And it seems he continued to serve the people who demoted him.

Can’t God use and bless us wherever we serve Him? Do we always have to have control, power, and position? Maybe an occasional demotion isn’t such a bad thing.

 

March 28; Focus on the Future.

Joshua 13-15

Joshua was 85 years old, and felt as strong as he’d felt decades earlier. He was ready to take the Promise Land, to lead the Israelites into battle after battle, and to finally realize what God had promised them centuries earlier. The man doesn’t seem to be slowing down in his old age.

It reminds me that all of us have things to do in Christ’s kingdom. But sometimes we old folks get stuck in the past. We remember the good old days and lament their passing. We know things were better back then, we had more energy back then, people listened to us better back then. Some of us get a bit smug thinking we’ve done our time, now it’s someone else’s turn. We hit a certain age and think it’s time to retire.

I’m sure the Israelites were glad Joshua didn’t have that attitude.

Joshua was an old dude. But he wasn’t wasting time looking back. And neither should we.  Whether you are an octogenarian like Joshua, or a busy mom in her thirties; newly retired, or someone just beginning a career, God has something for you to do. You are a vital part in His kingdom, a vessel through which He wants to reveal Himself.

I’m not saying it’s wrong to look back. In fact, I believe we’re missing something if we don’t. But I think God would have us consider our focus. If our focus is on the past, how can we move ahead? If we focus on the past, we will miss what God has in store for us today.

What ministry would God have you undertake? What has He gifted you with that He wants you to use for His glory? You might not be able to teach pre-schoolers anymore. But I bet you can use the phone to be an encourager to someone.  You might not be able to show hospitality to strangers as easily as you used to, but I imagine you can sing in the choir, or fold the bulletins, or sew on a button. You can do ANYTHING God has gifted you to do.

Let’s learn something from Joshua who didn’t think being 85 was any reason to slow down. Let’s find out what God would have us do for His glory. Forget the aches in our joints, or the shaking of our hands. Forget using our jobs and our families as excuses for sitting back. As God wants to move ahead in 2019 let’s figure out what we can do.

And then let’s do it!