“If you listen carefully to what he says and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you.”
Someone lashes out at you. What do you do? Most initial reactions are to defend your honor. Respond back in a way you know will hurt and cut deep. Does this describe an interaction you have had before? Why are we concerned about defending ourselves when we have the conqueror of the death that defends our honor and tells us who we are through His love?
It is not our place to be the judge of others. When we respond with a harsh tongue we want to pass judgment and let them know that we think they are wrong. When we position ourself as a judge it is hard to imagine serving someone that we are concerned with condemning. We need to allow God to do his part of being the judge. We need to serve through love. Whatever that may look like for your life and the people in it. Maybe you need to have a meaningful conversation with that person that really bothers you. Ask them about who they are. Learn their background. Often you will find things that will help your heart soften towards them, but even if you don’t our job is to love.
Serving someone can look so different at so many different times. Some times it is as literal as feeding the homeless. Other times it is serving by choosing to not respond.
"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:24) In order to do many things for the kingdom and become servants of the Most High we have to let our outer shell die to produce a new stalk. When the grain of wheat falls to the earth the outer shell dies and the living part of the seed produces a new stalk. If we allow our selfish desires to preserve our status die and are humbled under Christ that is when our fruits will multiply through our service to the Lord. Then and only then will be able to love and serve our enemy.
“So he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.” – John 13:4
Here in this verse Christ changes His posture. Are you willing to change your posture to serve someone? I think most people agree that serving others is a good thing, but at what level would you go? Christ positions Himself to the lowest of the low in order to serve and be the example to His disciples. Sometimes we need to step out of our status to go to a new point to show the love of Christ. To lower your state of mind and meet somebody where they are at or even go below where they are at shows complete selflessness and love.
To do this requires us to be open and vulnerable with people. Willing to go places that are not in “our” plan. The other part of the verse talks about Christ taking off His outer clothing. Christ does everything for a purpose. Taking off His outer garments showed that He was bearing Himself. We are so guarded these days and Christ is saying we have to open up. We have to be able to bear everything we are to Him. Allow ourselves to be forgiven and then use our story to love on others.
When we take a different position of a humble servant it has an exponential effect on everyone around us. It opens the door to being able to teach them why you are able to do this. As we become disciples and follow in Christ steps to become a servant leader it opens possibilities to help bring others along with us. Disciples creating developing other disciples!
Take time to reflect on these questions
In what areas of your life do you carry a disposition of pride?
Do you find your identity in Christ, so that you can let the pride go?
Once you let the pride go what will be the first way you will serve?
I Corinthians 10:23-25
“”I have the right to do anything,” you say- but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything” – but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.”
It is about me and whatever makes me happy is what I will do. I won’t show respect until they show respect. Have you heard someone say things like this? Maybe you have said things like this. We like to say “In today’s culture,” I think that this thought can trip Christians up or even non-Christians. We like to think that we are so much different now than anyone else to exist before us. In reality our issues are the exact same we just have new ways of going about those issues. I think that it can trip us up because we can say well the bible is so ancient. They didn’t deal with the same things I do. We can convince ourselves that the bible doesn’t have authority or relevance in the certain areas because of the distance in cultures. Right here in 1 Corinthians, the verse above, we can clearly see that Paul sees the same issues in the culture of the day as what we see in our culture in 2019. Here are some other verses.
“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.” – 1 Peter 3:8
“Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.” - 1 Thessalonians 5:15
“For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbors as yourself.”” – Galatians 5:14
“For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” – James 3:16
“But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” – Luke 6:35
The writers of the bible that were divinely inspired to write clearly think it is important to flip the common thinking of the culture. As Christians we need to take these verses and lead by example serving those around us even when it’s hard. If you want to break a cycle of continual disrespect between you and someone in your life, love first. Be careful in the motives of why you are doing this though. Are you doing it just so you will finally get the respect you “deserve”? Like the last verse listed from Luke we must serve expecting nothing in return. We do this by seeing them as God’s children not our enemy. We need to desire peace even if it means to allow the other person to walk away damage free after they attack our character.
Take time to reflect on these questions
Do you love first?
Are you ok helping others develop even if that means they will pass you up?
What is your motive for your daily decisions?
This In His Steps series is intended to take a look at what Jesus did in His life so that we can become this thing called a disciple. We don’t want to stop there, but take it to the next step where we start developing disciples as well. In week 9 we are going to look at the event when Jesus washed His disciples feet.
In this day everyone wants to be in charge and be the leader. The culture is about personal advancement. To be a leader or have a goal of advancement is not a bad thing at all, but how do we go about it? Many get to a point where they are too good for certain tasks, but Jesus was quite different.
It is the hottest day you have ever experienced you throw on some shoes with no socks and walk to the corner, are you going to smell your feet? Absolutely not! In bible times the wealthy had house servants that did the daily up keep, but then they had servants to be considered the lowest of all to wash their feet and the feet of their guest. The night of the last supper Jesus washed each one of His disciples’ feet. The Son of God sent to save the world lowered his self to the bottom in order to lead. Are you willing to be the servant leader Christ has called you to be? The most powerful leaders are the ones that would do the work no one wants to do. Jesus did not want to wash feet, but He loved them enough to do the unthinkable.
We have to love people enough to be able to do the unthinkable for them. How do we do that? We start seeing them the way Christ sees them. Christ’s people are beautiful, valuable, precious, and pursued. Even that person that really gets on your nerves at work is beautiful, valuable, precious, and pursued. When we love in this way it will begin to change the hearts of all around us. When we love in this way we serve in a way we didn’t know that we could.
Take time to reflect on these questions.
Who in your life do you need to see through the eyes of Christ?
How would this change the way you treat that person?
If Jesus showed His disciples love through service, who have you showed love to recently?
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2
Am I doing all that God has called me to do? Am I settling? I often start and end these devotions with questions because I believe self-reflection is important, my hope is for you to take some time and thought into what is being asked, it is just between you and God. Our minds and hearts are a powerful control center for our thoughts and feelings, and they are often consumed with what is happening around us, what were feeding into; stress, doubt, anxiety, etc. What ever it may be we become so busy that we don’t have a moment to focus on us. When that happens, life starts to become dull, finding yourself without purpose just living day to day and that’s where the enemy thrives, however, God calls us for so much more than that: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.”
To obtain a life of abundance, one must fully submit to God and His commands, for He is the only one who will bestow that upon us. I saw a drawing of a child once, maybe you’ve also seen it floating around Facebook too, anyways the child had a small teddy bear on her arm, then you see Jesus with an outstretched arm sort of asking the child to give up the tiny bear, you see it in the child’s face that she’s very reluctant to give it up and why wouldn’t she be, maybe that’s all she has and all she knows, but what she doesn’t see is Jesus has an even bigger teddy bear waiting for her behind His back, waiting for her to give up what she has to gain so much more. Is that not like us? We are so afraid to give God our all, everything we have, everything we learned, to something we can’t see yet. But it is with our faith and hope that we can trust that God has something tremendously bigger for us.
Cast your net with this hope.
Do you consider yourself to be a disciple of Christ? Do you take joy in discipling others? “Discipleship is teaching biblical precepts, while modeling and guiding others toward living righteously as followers of Jesus.” Discipleship although difficult at times should be a humbling, joyful act of worship. God is working through you to create disciple makers! It is truly incredible what can happen when you believe, obey and take up the word of God and choose to go out and fish for men.
Relationship plays a key role in discipleship. In order to become a disciple and train other disciples you yourself must have a genuine relationship with God. “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14. Prayer is powerful! That is where you get to know the Father on a personal level. Anyone can learn about God, read the scripture but if you aren’t talking to Him you wont truly know Him. Just like becoming friends with someone on Facebook, you see the basics, how they look like, where they work, what they like to do, but you truly don’t know them until you start having a conversation with them, and there is so many layers to Jesus that we are continually having to uncover, which is amazing. When you have a relationship with Jesus it becomes easier to form relationships with people and build on it.
Take a look at your relationship with Christ, is it strong? Does it need some building? The great thing about Jesus is that He will always welcome us with open arms to every problem or situation we might have, and he always has a solution: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1
How would you define your relationship with Christ?
How would you define your relationships with people?
Pray about uncovering a new layer to God, one that you haven’t seen.
Patience plays a prominent role when “fishing” for men. “But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” Romans 8:25 Often times we want to see the fruits being produced immediately after they were planted however that is not quite how it works, every great thing takes time, effort and a lot of patience. Patience to endure the trials, the hiccups, the do-overs. We know that no one is perfect but we try to do our best to channel the perfection that is within Christ unto us, the error that I have often made is holding everyone else who may not know or feel what I have experienced onto a higher platform which can be good at times but can also be detrimental. When we don’t have the patience to endure, it is no longer just ourselves that we are harming but the person who chose to go through this with you, they see it in our face, they sense it in our hearts with that being said you also can’t expect that you will see the end “result” Battling with this is difficult, you can put so much time and effort into a person who may not be ready for you on your path but will be ready for someone else on their path, and that’s okay.
Moses endured a lot while freeing the Israelites, although the Israelites witnessed a multitude of blessings and miracles still, they chose to grumble, ignore Gods commands and not trust Him in the process. Can you imagine how FRUSTRATING that can be? Well let us be glad that our Father has the “patience of a sloth” – Pastor Lee. Moses however didn’t. When the Israelites began to get hungry God provided bread, Moses instructed the Israelites to not save any for the next morning: “however some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them.” Exodus 16:20. Do you think Moses was justified in his anger? If yes, why? He wasn’t the one that provided it, God was patient why was Moses not? Our flesh wants us to lash out in the frustrating situations, we need to choose not to.
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,” James 1:19
Pray about those people who you will encounter and see grow and the ones who will see growth in another season.
We can’t expect everyone to come to us, or even meet us in the middle WE must go out to THEM: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20. The word “go” means we are being sent, God doesn’t call us to sit around and wait for the next opportunity, but to go and take the gospel into the world.
Becoming a disciple means you must step out of your comfort zone and trust that Jesus will be right there with you, guiding you through. “Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among all peoples” 1 Chronicles 16:24. God doesn’t put a limitation on who is allowed to know about the gospel and we shouldn’t either, everyone deserves to know the truth, love and forgiveness of God despite our differences. This is why I find the mission field so important, If you have a calling to reach the ends of the world for Christ, don’t be afraid, God always provides a way for His purpose to be fulfilled.
Now that we talked about going out into the world outside our walls, let’s think about what we can do here, within our community, family, friends, etc. There’s always going to be a need but that doesn’t mean we don’t try to help. Feed the hungry! Be a helpful hand to your family even when they seem impossible to “deal with” be a listening ear to your friends, all these things build relationships, which in turn build disciples. Just don’t do nothing.
When was the last time you served in your community?
Do you find it difficult to step out of your comfort zone?
If not, do you try to share the gospel as often as a funny post on Facebook is shared?
“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:12-17.
There is no one like our God, He is loving, gracious to forgive, and wants nothing but the best for us, we need to know that within the depths for our hearts! How then can we be disciples if we don’t read, study and soak in the word of God? Our spiritual net is the living, breathing word of God, it is POWERFUL. “so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11. We see here that the word will never not achieve its purpose, that’s great news! Never think for a second that you are not making a difference through Christ because believe me you are.
Not many people understand the depths of Gods love until they get into the word or are told of His miraculous deeds or experience it themselves. I say this because I was there once, entrapped in my sin I found it hard to believe that Jesus was on my side because how can God love me when I keep going against His will time after time? It was a truly awful feeling, until I was spiritually slapped in the face by scripture! A wake-up call that I needed; a heavy weight lifted off my shoulders, I could breathe! After that moment of realization, I was excited to tell of God’s love, something I never truly felt before. Now a day’s people are so accustomed to giving something out, or following a certain criteria in order to be loved, but that’s not the case with our Father.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35-39
Reflect on Gods love for you, in your own thoughts how does that look like or feel like to you?
Cast your net, share the word and be confident in it.
Have you ever been fishing? If you haven’t, here’s some things you need (Unless you’re going noodling which in that case you just need a hand… google it.) a fishing net, bait, a good fishing spot and most importantly patience. “As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.” Matthew 4: 18-20.
What did Jesus mean when He said He was going to send them out to fish for people? Jesus first wanted Peter and Andrew to follow Him, then by following Christ they will in turn make disciples, showing everyone the saving grace God bestowed upon us. But just like a fisherman needs his equipment we too need some things.
Bait, we need something to attract people something they desire deeply, and that is love. Love encompasses everything. “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” 1 John 4:16. This is why we tell of his reckless love, not just with our voices but with our actions because we all know actions speak louder than words ever will. As Christians we are called to LOVE as Christ loved, without judgement, without compensation. When people feel this new type of love, that they’ve never experienced before, they will be drawn into Jesus and His teachings.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35
Do you understand God’s love for you?
How do you show love?
I challenge you to find a verse in the bible that talks about love that you can live out, meditate on it throughout the week.
Tomorrow will talk about the next piece of equipment we need, our net. Stay tuned!