Category Archives: Service

Waging war

Ephesians 4:14-16 so that we may no longer be children, lightstock_116370_small_user_3963721tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.  Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,  from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

In WWII, the U.S. Army developed a new tactic: airborne operations. Under this new tactic, specially trained units would parachute in behind enemy lines before a major offensive. Their objective was to take strategic pieces of land, such as bridges and roads, and to eliminate particular sections of the enemy defenses. In essence, their job description was to be surrounded by large numbers of enemy troops and accomplish highly dangerous missions. Sounds fun, right?

Well, time to rise and shine, soldier – you are in the Airborne as you read this devotional. Anyone who follows Christ is most definitely behind enemy lines in this world. We are surrounded by a mass of enemy fortifications. Our circumstance in this respect is certain, and there is no way around it. Now we must choose whether to pick up our rifle and march forward, or crouch down in the ditch and pretend there’s not a war going on.

This reality is what Paul speaks to in 4:14. Spiritual warfare is all around us, and is infinitely more real than the game on TV last night. We ought not be shocked when the bullets start flying, not if we accept and understand our position. We’re supposed to be maturing and growing in our stature in Christ. We are supposed to be warriors who see the danger and are engaged in the fight.

The particular battle described here is one of the Church drawing people to Christ through our actions, our true selves, not just the bulletins that we pass out at bake sales. Fighting this battle involves growing into the fullness of Christ (verse 15), so that each member of the body functions properly. Thus, the whole unit becomes effective.

The Christian life is far from passive. Read over this passage several times and grasp the all -encompassing nature of our calling. Make no mistake, the enemy is playing for keeps, and he means to wreck, steal, and devour. Never stop seeking after Christ and allow Him to use you. Become a weapon in His hand.

———-  How are you letting yourself be used by God to wage war against the enemy?

Equipped for service

325064_2851984026582_830175113_oEphesians 4:11-13 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,  to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,  until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,

The idea of gifting and that each person has a unique gifting is certainly a familiar one; however, there is a good chance that we need to widen our perspective. Take all of Ephesians 3 and the first section of chapter 4 as your context. Paul describes the radical love of Christ in chapter 3, and then goes on to make several radical statements about how the church is supposed to represent that love. Our lives ought to be worthy of this calling, and it is with that foundation that Christ gifted each of us.

In 4:12, we see the purpose clearly – we have our gifts so that we can be equipped for service, and so that the Body might be built up for Christ’s glory. Verse 13 tells us what each man must do. In present day language, it might go something like this:

“Look, each one of you has a skill set. But those skills and gifts are not an end in themselves. We have been called by Christ and given our lives to Him, and our purpose now is to create, in our interactions and daily lives, a picture for the world to see that represents the Love that has been showered on us. Every man must apply himself to growing in Christ. Just as children grow physically, we need to grow spiritually so that each part of the Body is mature and functioning. The people in Ephesus that don’t know Jesus, they should be drawn in by their interactions with you, and that will happen when each of us pursues Christ above all else.”

Don’t be passive. You have certain strengths that will bless other people. Those strengths must be put into action, and they must be under the headship of Christ and used with this over-arching perspective.

———-  In what area of ministry are you currently using your God-given gifts and abilities?

A labor of love

1 Thessalonians 1:3 remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

As believers and followers of Jesus Christ, we’re all called to serve.  We serve God by doing the things He’s planned for us, and we serve others as well. If we strive to keep the two greatest commands (Matthew 22:37-40), we’ll be doing a lot of serving.

To an outsider, it may seem like all Christians do is work their tails off. If we follow the Bible’s guidance to put others before ourselves (Philippians 2:3), do all of the “unto one another” things listed, and work “as though working for God and not for man” (Colossians 3:23), it could sure seem that way. The thing is, though, when you’re working for the Lord, it doesn’t feel like work at all.

The Apostle Paul knew this better than anyone. He poured out his life as an offering (2 Timothy 4:6) without complaint because he knew every sacrifice he could make for the Lord was worth it. It wasn’t just him either. Paul acknowledged the hard work and service of the people in the churches to whom he wrote. He reminded them that they were working out their faith and that they labored in love, as well as that they were showing their hope in Jesus Christ by doing what they did.

You’ll never know who’s being blessed by your service for the Lord. Your labor of love could be what brings someone to know Him. Keep up the hard work!

The Disciples Paradox of Hate and Love

The price of discipleship seems as if it would be a high one, doesn’t it? After all, it was our blessed Savior, Christ Jesus, who admonished, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26) In a sense it almost seems contradictory to the nature of God, who is love, who taught us, for example, to honor our mother and our father, (Exodus 20:12) and who tells us that to live in hate is to live in death, devoid of the His grace. (1John 2:9-11)

How do we reconcile this to find the true nature of Christ’s calling? How do we look past the inherent ambiguity of this teaching, seeming so inconsistent with all that we have learned otherwise sitting at the feet of our Redeemer?

When Scripture speaks of the believer, it speaks of a person who is free of the yokes and the burdens of this world, telling us where the Spirit is, there is the truest of liberties. (2 Corinthians 3:17) Freedom, in its most basic sense, in its most fundamental of forms, does not and cannot exist in any form of hatred. Hatred is a chain that, when placed around our neck, strangles the life from us as surely as it kills faith itself. The healing that we have been called to is no longer possible, because, in the weakness that it brings, we have forsaken all that was meant to preserve sacred and strengthen life.

At the core of Christ’s teaching is not hatred, nor could it be if he truly is God, as we know him to be. God is, after all, love (1 John 4:8) and love itself is what is at the heart of the matter.

The two greatest commandments that fulfill all aspects of the law are that we love the Lord our God with all of our hearts, and souls and minds, and that we love our neighbors as we love ourselves. (Matthew 22:36:40) Yet, even as we consider that teaching we must remember that Christ did not put these on equal footing. The first was to love the Lord, while the second was to love others. At the heart of the matter is that if we are to be faithful to God, if we are to truly follow Him with our whole heart, willing to be led as He would lead us then we can love nothing more than we love Him. Even in the context of the original Greek this is the meaning that lies behind the use of “Hate”, not as we so often think about it, but rather in terms of loving less.

Discipleship means that we must be willing to sacrifice. In love, it means a willingness to give everything and anything in love and hope for others. (John 15:14) When we love God, when we love Christ more than we love anything else, we are willing to give up what is necessary to serve our risen Savior in the hope, the faith, the strength, and the love he first taught us. (John 13:34-35) It means we are willing to offer all of who we are in healing as we find ourselves able to let go and let God lead us.

Perhaps this may be a burden for us, a cross that we must take up and carry. But, in a sense it is a trade, for when we trust God, when we look to Him, holding Him first, we cast the heavier burdens of this world, the self-doubt, the uncertainty for the future, the hurt of lose and the pain of longing far from us, and we take upon us the yoke of service that shines in hope, and dwells in a faith and a knowledge that though we may be affected by the course of this world, nothing will affect us much as it teaches us the value and the worth that truly rests in His creation and His plan.

As you are called to be a Disciple of Christ, God will never ask more of you than you can give, more of you than you can offer. Understanding that we must be willing to lay all of ourselves on the altar of God as a sacrifice, knowing that, as much is given to us in the grandness of His design much will be asked of us. Yet that price of discipleship should be one we are always willing to pay.

Serve others

A disciple

Galatians 6:10  So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

To serve, or to be served?  It’s a choice we all have to make at some point.  Naturally, we’re inclined to lean toward being served.  Look all around at the culture of this era.  Everything is about how much we deserve and how we should get it now.  We don’t have to wait for anything and we can be served…even through a little window on the side of the restaurant.

But Jesus came to serve others and He calls us to do the same.  Does this sound familiar?  You’ve heard it before, but does it resonate?  How can you serve someone today?  Can you put aside something you want in order to make someone else’s day just a little bit better for the glory of God? When should we serve?  How much is enough?

Paul’s letter to the Galatians instructs them never to grow weary in doing good and suggests that at every opportunity to serve one should do so.  At every opportunity?  This can only be done by someone who isn’t thinking of themselves.  This can only be accomplished by someone who puts the needs of others first.  By someone who truly loves God and serves Him by serving His people.  By a disciple.