“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
Everyone falls into one of these categories: Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor, and Teacher. As Christians we have been called by Christ to help mature the body, the body being the church. We all have a roll in our church that will make the church better at it’s mission to show the world Christ's love.
The word Church actually comes from a Greek root word that was a council. The council would go outside of the city and meet talking about principles, culture and so on. They would then come back into the city to disperse these new ideas. As Christian we go out away from culture to church, to learn new principles and relationships, so that we are equipped to take the message to the world. You have a special part in that. Whether it be teaching a class, helping set up or tear down, smiling and greeting people as they enter in, or serving through specific ministries, etc. Whatever it maybe it is very important to the development of the church and how well we are able to equip ourselves and newcomers to go out into the world and shine the light for Christ. All jobs and skills have eternal significance. Not one is more important than the other.
You may think that you are only affecting yourself when you do not take an active roll in the church. This is actually very false. You are unique and have a skill or niche that no one else on the planet can do quite like you. Someone in the church needs that specifically from you! The way that you greet someone may not be very special to you but it could have an eternal significance on someone's soul that walks through the door.
If you have not found a place to take an active roll in your church, I challenge to find your spot. Talk with a pastor or friend that could help find that spot. It is for the body of Christ, but again like we said in the previous devotions if you live for others the blessings will be abundant.
Take time to reflect on these questions
What is unique about you that could help the church?
What will be your first step to taking an active roll in the church?
If you have been in church for 20 years without serving that’s ok, but don’t let it get to 21. Get it involved today!
On Sunday Pastor Lee made a statement that I thought was very moving. He said, “If you live for your blessing you will miss it. If you live to bless, the blessings will be abundant,” (Pastor Lee). This hit me in the heart.
A statement like this is talking about a truth death to self
“And He was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” Luke 9:23
"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Galatians 2:20
This idea of a death to self is to say that I allow my fleshly self-fulfilling natural state to expire as I allow the Holy Spirit to take the real estate that is my spirit. I begin to think how Christ does instead of how I would. Christ’s entire life was literally for everyone, but Himself.
If I live chasing my own benefits there may be some good times, but when life stinks there will be nothing that points to hope. There would be no hope because at that point you have designed your life to be about you and no one else. The ideas of let’s do what is best for everyone is not even a thought. This is a lonely life with few victories along the way.
If I live for everyone else trying to make their life better, my life will have an entirely new tint to it. As the people I have come to love find blessings that is a blessing to my soul even if in my personal life I am in a valley. Life becomes much more fulfilling if I live for everyone else. I believe this is what Pastor Lee had in mind when he said, “If you live for your blessing you will miss it. If you live to bless, the blessing will be abundant.”
If someone came up to you and said that they loved and respected you, but then did not help take care of your family or even worse rejected the rest of your family would you believe what they had said prior?
Do you neglect the down and out? Do you neglect even just the people that annoy you? Then you are doing the same thing to God. Every person on this planet is one of God’s children and when we neglect them can we really love God? Serving is a way to personify your love. When we serve the “least of these” we love them and our heavenly Father. When accepting Christ as your savior you have committed to serving him and everyone else.
Serving goes past the fact that it is not about you. It goes past the fact it is about others. It is what we have been created and called to do by our Creator. It is not something that we get to view as optional. It is not something that we get to say if I have time. Service needs to be wound into the fabric of how you live your life.
Today’s devotion is a little short, but it is to the point. Loving God and serving others are one in the same! If you love God serve His family!
Take sometime to reflect on these questions
Have you seen service as something you will get to when you have time?
Have you ever considered the way you treated the annoying person at work as a reflection of how you loved God in that moment?
How will you practically add service into your daily routine?
“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?