A Word About Service

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I can’t believe how often lately I have heard a message or read something about God wanting a relationship with me more than he wants my service.  In the beginning, it didn’t compute for me. I couldn’t understand the concept, probably because of the constant training I have received in church over the years. Every church I have ever attended had more work to be done than people to do it.  Consequently, the few who were willing to serve God in the church got all the work to do, while the many who weren’t willing did very little to lift that heavy load.

Our service equations are off in the church.

If you’ve ever pulled back when work needed to be done, you might be as confused as I have been these past few weeks. After all, wasn’t it Jesus who said the fields were white unto harvest?  Didn’t that mean we who were the faithful ought to get to work?

But which is more important, relationship or service? 

Think about that for a minute.

Maybe two….

Or three….

Which is more important, relationship or service?

If I walk into some man’s house, and I begin picking up his dirty clothes and washing them, will he be glad for it?  Won’t he think me wonderful for reorganizing his closet and dresser, sweeping and mopping his floors…making supper and getting all gussied up for him, so that when he does get home from a long day’s work the stage is set for a beautiful evening of me serving him?  He will, IF he knows me.  If not, I’m betting even the most courageous of guys would be like, “What?  Who are you anyway, and what are you doing in my house?  And did you wash my clothes?”

I’m betting he would be seriously rattled, and wayyyy too frightened of me to eat anything I’d cooked for him, even if it was the most delicious-looking meal ever. At least if he’s smart, he would.  He doesn’t know me!

Bazinga! 

Service is only meaningful once relationship has been established!

I’m beginning to understand. 

We have much to do in the church each week, but if we do it simply out of obligation it’s no better than not doing it at all.  Worse, really, because it cannot be appreciated the way it was intended to be without first establishing a connection to the one we do it for.

Time + Jesus = Joy!  

Service without Jesus equals sorrow. Which would you rather have?

When has service for Jesus failed, when time spent with Jesus didn’t?  How long has it been since you stopped pushing yourself to do more, and just let Jesus do a work in you? 

A Rod Judiciously Used

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God had one Son without sin, but not a single child without the rod.  –C.H. Spurgeon

For those of us who regularly saw the rod growing up, punishment (ie: discipline), became distasteful.  We vowed when we left home that we would never let anyone get the upper hand in our lives again. We would never bow to others corrections, and we would not bend either.

Problem was, we vowed these things before we asked Jesus to enter our hearts and straighten out the bends and kinks in our lives.

God’s word says this about discipline: “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke; because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.  Prov 3:11-12

Discipline is a somewhat lost concept in our culture these days, isn’t it? Few want to apply the principle any more, and consequently we are seeing a lot of dysfunction in our country.  Those of us who have been saved through the practice though, can attest to the fact that while discipline is never pleasant, correction is almost always a seed for growth.

Today, if God in His love has chosen to correct your behavior and thereby set you on a new path, be thankful.  I know it isn’t pleasant, but He sure is good!!!

Like the son he delights in, our God delights in you.  Don’t shy away from His attentions–they are only for your good!

 

Trust

Man says, “Show me and I’ll trust you.”

God says, “Trust me, and I’ll show you.”  –Anonymous

Have you ever doubted the goodness of men?  Me, too!  I sometimes doubt it to the extent that I lose sleep at night.  I doubt that what I share with others will be kept in confidence. I doubt that others will understand my intent as good.  I doubt that love will be returned when needs have been expressed.  I doubt.

Trusting in God through Christ we don’t need to doubt!

While I spend a good deal of time doubting men and women, even those of faith (my bad, and I admit it), I don’t doubt God.  I know that with Him I am understood.  My desires for a good return on my investment are always met with gains where God is concerned.  He never lets me down, always lifts me up, makes sure I feel affirmed, and love, love, loves me no matter what.  Where in the world can you get that deal outside of Jesus Christ?  Nowhere!

Today, as we begin a new year, if you don’t know Truth, I’m betting you don’t know Trust. It’s discouraging, I know, but there is hope.  Trust is available to every one of us as we freely give ourselves and our needs to God.  You don’t have to go through 2017 doubting God’s intentions for you. You can know true love, selfless concern, and boundless joy.  You can decide to trust God with your will and your way, and when you do, amazing things will happen.

My recommendation:  get started on this process now.  Don’t live one more day in doubt about God.  You do have a choice–choose Jesus!!!

 

The Message of a Silent Night

Silent night! Holy night!

Shepherds quake at the sight.

Glories stream from heaven afar,

Heavenly hosts sign Alleluia,

Christ the Savior is born.

Christ the Savior is born!

Have you ever stopped to think about the message the song Silent Night delivers? 

If you’re like me, you find it a challenge to be silent. 🙂 Piping down is not an item included in your spiritual gift basket from the Lord.

Take heart, for I know we’re not the only ones who have trouble being quiet in our spirits.  Similar to the pronouncement angels always make (Fear not!), this song reminds us that there are those besides us who need encouragement to quiet their hurried and worried selves before the King of Glory.

Especially insightful, is the song’s reminder that when a baby is sleeping near by, especially one of royal birth, our response should be to speak in hushed tones.  That is, if we speak at all.  Better to not speak, for then we can focus more fully on the spectacle of birth that lay before us.

A baby changes everything!

As you wait for the Christmas season to fully fall upon you and your family, I’d encourage you to give your worries and cares to God, letting Him take the weight of the world off your shoulders for a few days.

You can stop being everyone’s everything by allowing Him to do it for you! 

If you’re still feeling stressed after releasing your cares to God, try to remember that first Christmas night: the silence near the baby, the holiness of the miracle, and the shepherds who saw, wondered, and pondered what this new birth might mean for their tired and terrorized world.

At this point, allow your heart to fill with joy! 

Close your eyes and strain to hear the Alleluias being sung in heaven as a celebration anthem to the child.

Know, God loves you very much!!!

A baby changes everything!

Christ the savior is born, people. 

Christ, the Savior, is born!!!!!

…there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.  Luke 2:8-12

Symbols matter

Almost every morning for as long as I can remember, I have started my work day by getting out my steno pad, marking the date on the right-hand side at the top of the page, and drawing the following symbol next to that date:

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I’m not sure when I began this practice, or why I began it, or even what it means, but I do the same thing almost every day. I’m habitual about it.  My day doesn’t begin until I have completed the drawing of the cross and circle on that pad.

Today, as I was making that symbol next to the date in the upper right hand side of my tablet I realized that I had made the sign of the cross first, and then drawn in the swirly circle afterward.  It bothered me.  It never had before, but today it did.

I looked at the cross.

I looked at the circle.

I thought about the drawing.  The circle reminded me of a whirlwind.  My life, the whirlwind.

I picked up my pen and drew the cross again, this time atop the whirling swirl that symbolized my life.  I felt better afterward.  It was a little gesture, but it made all the difference in the way I began my day.

Oh, that change would be so easily affected every day of my life!

Here’s what I need to learn: 

God is in control!  All the time.  Every day.

Symbols matter in our lives.

God needs to be in charge, especially of my whirlwind.

Today I got it right!

Praise God—He’s in charge of this day–just as it should be.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways, make sure you define for yourself who is in charge of you and who is responsible for you—who loves you!  When God is in charge of you, it relieves you of the burden of worrying about what today will bring.  God is in control.  Hallelujah, The Lord will direct your path!!!  Proverbs 3:5, loosely paraphrased by me. ljh