Tag Archives: serving

September 24; Keep It Going

Nehemiah 9:38-11:36

The people we read about in the book of Nehemiah weren’t satisfied with building the wall, then putting their feet up and relaxing. What we read in these chapters is their determination to serve the Lord after the job of repairing the wall was complete.

And once again, we see many people chipping in and contributing to the work. They even organized a schedule for people to provide the wood needed for the burnt sacrifices. No detail was too small. They had worked on their individual sections of the wall until it was complete. Now they were going to take on individual responsibilities to keep God’s work going.

Yes, Church. That’s a picture of us, or it should be. Are you doing your part, or are you allowing a faithful few to pull the weight of ministry in your fellowship? You and I are needed to further the Gospel through the body of believers with whom we worship. God has commanded us to go into our communities to tell people about Jesus, and to make disciples. Churches have been doing that work for 2,000 years. Will we keep it going?

Numbers 17-18; Budding, Blossoming, and Bountiful

Priests were highly regarded men, respected, obeyed. It’s no wonder that men from other tribes wanted to enjoy the same honor. But God made it plain that Aaron was His chosen, and only Levites were to attend to priestly duties. The staff that represented Aaron not only budded, it blossomed, and produced fruit over night.

The other staves? Nothing.

This side of the cross, as God’s kingdom of priests, we can learn from Aaron’s staff. As believers, we are chosen by God to grow in grace and knowledge, to go and make disciples, to stand in the gap between heaven and hell. We also can delight in God’s Presence, His love, His forgiveness, and protection. Buds and blossoms and bounty.

But chapter 18 reminds us of the great responsibility that goes along with all that. God told Aaron that he and his sons, “bear the responsibility for offenses against the sanctuary…

Verse 5 says: You are to be responsible for the care of the sanctuary and the altar, so that wrath will not fall on the Israelites again.

The commentaries I read seemed to agree these verses warn me that, although being God’s child through the blood of His Son is a precious gift, there are serious consequences if I don’t use it, if I hoard it or abuse it.

I must bear fruit. If I don’t, God’s wrath will be my fault. If my neighbor goes to hell because I didn’t reach out to him to introduce him to the Savior, his blood is on my hands.

My pastor is going through I Thessalonians verse by verse with us, and yesterday we got to 5:12-15. These verses talk to us about how we are to regard those who are over us in the Lord. In other words, our pastors.

He shared the grave responsibility he has as our under-shepherd, and the fact that he will stand before God some day and account for his care of us who worship with him in our church body. He asked us to pray for him, for his faithfulness to God’s Word, and his purity, that God would keep him grounded in the Truth of Scripture, and victorious over sin in his own life.

I’m teaching a Sunday School class this quarter, and would ask the same of you. Please pray for me as I take on the responsibility of being God’s voice to the dear women who trust me to speak the Truth. And pray that Satan will be defeated in my life.

My pastor also pointed out these verses address “those who work hard AMONG you.” Isn’t that all of us who name the name of Jesus? We need to be in prayer for our elders, deacons, youth leaders, worship leaders. We need to be in prayer for each other in our workplaces and neighborhoods as we represent Jesus to a lost world. These verses tell us to live in peace with each other, to encourage each other in the work we have to do, to be patient and kind with everyone, and always want what is best for everyone.

We are all in this together. We all have jobs to do so blossoms will grow and fruit is produced. I pray that God will find all of us faithful, and that our fruit will be bountiful for Jesus’ sake.

Numbers 13-14; Turn Down The Volume

When I was a middle school teacher I found that, when the kids in my classroom started to get noisy, the louder I spoke, the louder they got. If I tried to teach over their chatter, the noise level rose (and so did my frustration level).

It’s like that with arguments, isn’t it? Voice level rises, and anger escalates.

Ten spies came back from checking out the Promised Land, and threw fear into the people. I can almost see the Jews getting caught up in the frenzy. So rather than trying to out-shout them, Moses and Aaron fell to the ground, face down in front of the people gathered there. Joshua and Caleb tore their clothes, a sign of distress and grief.

That got the people’s attention.

Several of my closest friends at the middle school and I had our breaks scheduled at the same time. Usually, unless there were papers to grade, lessons to tweak, or parents to talk to, we would meet in the teacher’s lounge for a cup of coffee and a few laughs. Most of the time five or six of us would sit around the table and talk about recipes, husbands, and TV shows, for twenty minutes. It was a much needed break from our day.

Two of the women were friends in school and out. They socialized together with their husbands, and enjoyed a special friendship. Most of the time, they would join the rest of us. But occasionally, they would sit together on the couch, heads together, and whisper about something they didn’t want the rest of us to hear.

What do you do when someone whispers? Do your ears perk up, your senses heighten? Well, mine did. I could be in the middle of a conversation with another teacher at the table, but as soon as my friends on the couch began to whisper, I found myself trying to listen to them, too.

I couldn’t help myself. The whispering got my attention, even if I really didn’t care what they are saying.

I got to thinking about how I share Christ with others. Do I stand on a street corner and shout “Repent! The end is near!”? Do I take my Bible and hit them over the head with it? Do I talk about Jesus, or do I live His love? Do I listen to my friend, instead of rushing in with answers? Do I argue? Debate? Lecture?

Moses and Aaron fell on their faces, rather than trying to out-shout the crowd. I think I can learn a lesson from this. Oh, if you read on you’ll find out that some of the people didn’t heed what Moses had to say. They ended up facing God’s judgment in spite of his warning.

But at least Moses got their attention, and was faithful to say what God wanted him to say. I want that to be true about me, too.

So, maybe I should learn to turn down the volume. Someone said, “if you want people to hear you… whisper.” I want my life to whisper, “Jesus.”

I’m thinking that, if I want someone to hear my testimony, I should get together with them in a quiet place. I should demonstrate my love for God by quietly serving, by reaching out to them in friendship.

Then, I want to be ready to give an answer for the hope I have in my Savior. I just need to get their attention first so that they’ll ask me to.

 

 

 

December 6 – Unimpressive, Contemptible, and Blessed

2 Corinthians 10-13

Paul seems a little defensive. He must have been receiving some pretty harsh criticism from some of the Corinthian Christians. They said his letters were “weighty and strong,” but felt he was “unimpressive” in person. They went as far as saying his speech was “contemptible.”

Ouch.

Paul admitted that he was not a great public speaker. But he made no apologies for the message he proclaimed. That’s what I think God would have us see today.

We might not all look like Beth Moore, or preach like Billy Graham, or sing like Big Daddy Weave. But God loves to do great things through the least of us. And He does every time we submit ourselves to Him and take those steps of faith.

When we fumble over our testimony over coffee with an unsaved friend, God is glorified. When we quietly shovel snow for our neighbor, or take soup to a sick friend, or sit with someone who is mourning, God is glorified. When people recognize that what we do or say can’t possibly be by our own power, God is glorified.

Paul told his critics, “you might not like how I talk or how I look but that will not stop me from telling you the Truth.” You see, it was the message that was important, not the messenger.

We might not even like the way we look ourselves. We may have no confidence in our abilities. But let God have His way and see what amazing things He can do through us anyway. He will be glorified. And we will be blessed… and a blessing!

A Common Thread

For some time I have read through the Bible each year with a chronological plan. I love reading the Bible that way. But this year I decided to mix it up a bit, rebel that I am. I’m reading the New King James Version with a plan that includes some Old Testament, a Psalm or two, some Proverbs, and a passage from the New Testament each day for a year.

Not sure how I feel about that yet. But I’m excited to see what God has in store for me as I read His Word. What has occurred to me this first week of 2015, is how the Bible isn’t just a book of one thought after another, once account after another. It is an incredible piece of literature, inspired by God Himself, and it has a message that is consistent from Genesis to Revelation. Like what I read today.

The book of Genesis tells us that several years after the flood, people were beginning to feel pretty powerful. They began to build the Tower of Babel (11:1-9) and with each brick they laid. they felt more prideful. They were going to build their way to God.

Solomon tells us there are seven things God hates: pride, lies, murder, wickedness, choosing evil, slander, and troublemakers. (Proverbs 6:16-19) Pride heads Solomon’s list. Jesus tells us not to give, fast or pray in order to receive praise. (Matthew 6:2,5,16)

One of the biggest stumbling blocks in our walk with the Lord just might be pride. Receiving Christ as our Savior involves humbling ourselves, pouring our “selves” out, relinquishing control, and admitting our worthlessness.

For some, that’s too much to ask. Some would rather climb a mountain or fight a giant instead of falling on their knees in repentance. Even some who know Christ still battle pride, and want their walk or their sacrifice to be noticed by others. God hates that. God cannot bless that. And I believe unsaved people label that attitude in a believer hypocrisy.

God is asking me about my motives. Am I doing something in Jesus name in order to get to him on my own terms, like the Jews at Babel? Am I volunteering at church so that people will tell me how great it is that I do? Do my public prayers consist of flowery words meant to impress those in attendance, my weekly offering in the collection plate given so someone will comment about my sacrifice?

I love how the different passages I read today all share the same message. This Bible I have in front of me is truly amazing. May I read it, learn from it, and be the woman God would have me be for Jesus’ sake, not mine.

So what is the common thread I’ve seen as I read from the entire Bible? Put simply: this life isn’t about me. It’s all about Jesus. All of it.

Dear God, thank you for your Word. Thank you that it is relevant, powerful, and true. I pray that your children will spend time in these precious pages, that we will think on it, learn from it, and use it to lead others to the Savior. I also pray that in all we do, the sin of pride will not have a foothold. May we look to you and not ourselves. And may you find us faithful, in Jesus’ name.

May 14

2 Samuel 20:1-26; I Chronicles 22:1-19, Psalms 140, 29, 30

It must have been hard for David to realize God meant what he said when he told David Solomon would be the one to build the temple. David accepted it. But he couldn’t just pretend it didn’t matter.

So King David, more than a little controlling I think, set out to get everything ready for Solomon. David collected the wood, the precious metals, he hired the artisans and the construction workers. He sat Solomon down and went over the plans. He even wrote the dedication ceremony, knowing he would be dead when Solomon was king and the temple built.

I doubt there was one detail overlooked by David. It was that important to him.

I think God would ask us today how important is it to us to prepare our children for what’s ahead. Are they learning from us to love God’s Word, to respect his temple, to attend to every detail in obedience? Do they see in us someone who loves God and honors him with our lives? 

Solomon saw in his dad a man who loved God and was excited about serving him. I pray our children see the same in us.