Thursday, April 28, 2016

To The Servants Of This World

His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; 
(Matthew 25:21a NKJV)

         In 2015 I believe that the servants in His church are on the heart of the Father.  God’s servant people have always been the force that turns the wheels of the church.  I speak of the people who are most deserving of our recognition but seek it the least.  They are God’s under-recognized remnant that glorifies the Father by serving His people.  They may do this by cleaning pews or preaching in pulpits.  It is not about a position but an attitude of heart.  Whether they are followers or ones who are followed, they have one thing in common; they do what they do to glorify their Lord and not themselves.
         A church without servants is like a carriage without a horse, its not going anywhere.  They are like the salt in our food.  We can’t see it but we know when it is lacking.  The Apostle Paul once described in Ephesians 4:16 how the Body of Christ is held together by every joint (or ligament).  A ligament is not very visible but without it the muscle becomes absolutely useless.  You servants in the church that give of yourselves to help make others successful are the glue that holds things together.
         It seems to me that there is one central test for all true servants of Christ, and that is being willing to do a great deal of the work and yet get little credit for its outcome.  If you seem to find yourself in this situation a lot, listen to the following words.
         In that great stage we call life, your curtain calls may be few and far between.  And it may always seem like you get the understudy roll.  But if you play your roll for Him and His glory, not for what you can get but what you can give.  Don’t be surprised as you cross that great river in that final great encore, when you get a standing ovation from the audience of three, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, backed up in perfect harmony by the host of heaven.  God has never missed one of your acts of selfless service and He never, ever forgets.
         My dear servant friends, you must keep an eternal rather than a temporal perspective. Keep your eye on the prize. One day you will stand before the Lord Jesus and He will look into your eyes and say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  At that moment when Jesus plants that first kiss on the back of your neck, it will make it all worthwhile.
         Remember, it’s not the height, or even the breath of your ministry that impresses God.  It’s the depth of your love for Him that motivates you to serve that catches the eye of the Father.  There is no greater calling than a servant of Christ.

Image used with permission by Google.


Sunday, April 24, 2016

Faith By Works

The manna ceased on the day after they had eaten some of the produce of the land, so that the sons of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate some of the yield of the land of Canaan during that year. (Joshua 5:12 NASB).
When Israel entered the Promised Land they no longer saw the miraculous provision of food.  They ate of the crops of the land.  God does not do for us what we can do for ourselves.  Obviously, I am not talking about salvation. This we cannot do for ourselves, but there is a working out of our salvation that comes by faith and effort.
Israel could plant and harvest for themselves.  They no longer needed the manna.  Miracles are a product of necessity.  This meant one thing for God’s people, hard work.  We are told in James 2:18 (NASB) to show our faith by our works. Works don’t save us but saved people do works.  In some circles it appears that seeking miracles has become somewhat of a spectator sport.  Yes, Jesus used miracles to confirm the Word, but even then the need was either unavailable or impossible to obtain in the natural realm.  Miracles are often a combination of the natural and the supernatural, such as the feeding of the five thousand in Matthew 14: 15-21 (NASB).  If we don’t exercise faith and do the possible we may never see the impossible.
The times that miracles seem to be eluding us, maybe we should ask ourselves if we are refusing to do what we can do, or trying to do only what God  can do.  Maybe the avenue to the miraculous is through that little four-letter word that some people consider dirty, work!  Do the possible and expect God to do the impossible.

Image use with permission by Microsoft.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Beware In Times of Blessing

“But that is the time to be careful! Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the Lord your God and disobey his commands, regulations, and decrees that I am giving you today.
(Deuteronomy 8:11 NASB).

Blessing can be a curse.  In times of prosperity we may be most susceptible to disobedience and paths away from God.  Our greatest tests may not be in our trials but in times of plenty.

Most people have a common problem. We tend to forget.  Very imperceptibly, pride slips in the back door and we start to forget all that God has done and how He has rescued us helpless in our sin (v. 14). Yes, we remember the acts of God, but we start to believe in our minds and hearts that it is because as individuals or groups we are special.  Remember, Israel was not chosen because they were special; they were special because they were chosen.  It was God’s love for them and not their goodness, strength, or power.  Moses reminded Israel in Deuteronomy 9: 4-5 that He was not giving them their inheritance because their righteousness or integrity. He was fulfilling an oath he had made to their ancestors.

Trials have their own built in mechanism that keep us on our knees. Prosperity can lead us to forget our desperate need for God. Prayerlessness is the avenue that allows pride to get its tentacles around our heart and lead us down the path of self-sufficiency.  The next time you feel blessed, think back prior to your redemption and remember how hopeless and despairing you were in your sin. Then maybe we will recognize that all we have is because of the unmerited favor of God.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The God of the Ordinary

Used with permission by Microsoft
It is the hum-drum and routine events of life that we see God most at work.  Yes, God works in the supernatural (miracles, healing, etc.) where He supersedes natural laws and does His thing.  And thank God for those.  But for every one of those, there are untold numbers of seemingly natural occurrences that God orchestrates.  The supernatural most often works in conjunction with the natural.  They may not be as spectacular, but they are no less supernatural. 
This ought to be an encouragement to most of us of us, as most of us if we are honest, live ordinary or routine lives.  Some one once said that the problem with Christianity is that is everyday.  Many believe that being ordinary is a pre-cursor to uselessness.  This is why we often go in search of the unusual and spectacular.  The truth of the matter is that we need not be unusual or spectacular because God is unusual and spectacular enough. 
It is often in the ordinary situations and places---not extraordinary one---that God teaches us lessons with eternal consequence.

Adapted from Ken Barnes, The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places: The Joy of Serving God in the Ordinary (Seattle: YWAM Publishing, 2011), 24–27.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A Lost Generation

“Then all of you approached me and said, ‘Let us send men before us, that they may search out the land for us ..... The thing pleased me and I took twelve of your men, one man for each tribe.” (Deuteronomy 1:22 NASB).
The giants were this big!
The Lord had just spoken to Israel to go in and take their inheritance.  Unfortunately, we see no direction by the Lord to send spies into the land.  When we add to the words or the plans of the Lord the results are never good.

It appears in Numbers 13: 1-2 that God did tell Moses to send out the spies, but in our above mentioned scriptural reference it is clear the suggestion first came from the people and not God.  The Lord often allows us to follow our own ways.  Moses gave them the God’s word (Duet 1:21-22) but the people wanted just a little more than God gave them.  They thought they would make their own plans because they didn’t trust God’s.  It is never wise to try and out-think God.  Before we put all the blame on the people we should take note of telling little excerpt from Moses in v. 23, “The thing pleased me.”  As a leader, it is generally good to be inclusive of those you lead in making leadership decisions, but never when the Lord has already spoken.  Moses did not follow his own instructions.

And we know the rest of the story.  The intelligence gathered by the spies led to unbelief and disobedience.  The ensuing result was that all Israel save two men never had their feet touch the good soil of Canaan.   The choices of man do make a difference.  They never negate the redemptive plan of the Lord, but they do usher in a new set of characters to enact the story. We should take note of the warning in the Book of Revelation, neither add to nor take away from His Word.

Image used with permission by Microsoft.