Friday, November 27, 2015

Serving God's Way

Image used with permission by Microsoft
God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use it well to serve one another….  Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ….. (I Peter 4: 10-11 NLT).

   There is a definite order of service delineated in this portion of scripture. It’s God, then others and self. Unfortunately, we sometimes invert that order to ourselves, people, and then the Lord.  In this hierarchy of service, due to our tendency to look out for number one, it is very easy to keep ourselves on top and let God and man compete for everything 
    It is very clear that our motivation to serve comes first and foremost from God. But even though God is first, it is never just me and Jesus.  Our love for him (God) is always displayed for those created in his image.  There is a vertical and horizontal aspect to our service.  It is upward toward the Lord and outward to those around us. When we combine the vertical and horizontal we form the sign of the cross. Jesus was the perfect servant. He came to serve and not be served.
    If we quit serving because whom we serve doesn’t affirm our efforts, it shows we are endeavoring to please man instead of God. If our priorities are right, it does not matter if we are treated fairly, we continue to be faithful in our duties because we ultimately are doing it for God and not flesh and blood.  The litmus test of a servant’s heart comes when we do the lion’s share of the work and get very little credit for the results.  This will reveal whether are life is in divine order, God, then others and self.    

Ken Barnes, the author of “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Honor Of Humility

And before honor comes humility
(Proverbs 15: 33b NASB)

I wonder what they think about me now?
I worked for a mission’s organization called Youth With A Mission, referred to as YWAM.  I was a recruiter and I set up missions meetings in 35 cities east of the Mississippi River.   I had wonderful people in each city working with me. Knowing that missionaries were just ordinary people who had the privilege of working with an extraordinary God, I sometimes felt these people had a little higher view of missionaries then we deserved.
One weekend a couple that organized meetings for me in South Carolina came to the YWAM center in Virginia where I lived. This couple really loved missions and they appreciated the work of our mission.  But that weekend I was a little surprised when I found out why they really liked us so much.
Sunday morning we planned on having them over to our apartment for breakfast before going to church. That morning I was running between the dining area and the bedroom. I was trying to entertain my guests and also to help my youngest daughter get dressed for church.  I felt a little stressed. My little one who usually was the picture of submission was having a hard time listening to her Dad. I think she may have been influenced by the Sunday morning demon.  Finally, I lost it and let her have it verbally in a very unloving fashion. As soon as the words came out of my mouth I knew I was wrong and I apologized to her.  She forgave me as kids usually do. But we were in the room right next to where my guests we're waiting, and I thought to myself; did they hear what I said?  A little embarrassed terror hit my heart.  Again I thought, I wonder what they think about me now.  At the breakfast table I felt like a little child who didn't want to look into his parents eyes when he knows he's done something wrong. Needless to say it was a very awkward breakfast for me.
          After breakfast I realized that not making eye contact with them was not going to work all day. After church at a restaurant before we prayed for the food I decided to get this thing off my chest. It didn't matter whether they had heard me or not, I needed to be known in my weakness and ask them to pray that I would be better at handling stress. I told them the story and the husband got a huge smile on his face and said, “that's what we like about you YWAMERS, you have the rhema in this area of openness.”  Wow! I saw more clearly than ever that I had been believing a lie. I thought that if I let myself be known for who I really was I would lose their acceptance. What made me so susceptible to this deception?  It was my pride.  I cared more than I should about what my friends thought about me.  What I wanted to hide, when revealed, didn’t bring shame but respect   In God's Kingdom honor is always preceded by humility.

Ken Barnes, the author of “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing

Image used with permission by Microsoft