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Archive for the ‘service’ Category

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:8-10  (ESV)

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We’re not saved by works. That is not how salvation works. we are saved by grace through faith. Our salvation is a gift from God.

So how do works fit in?

We are saved to serve the Lord.

Growing in His Word

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works . . .

That is what it says. Verse 10 says as believers, we are “created in Christ Jesus for good works.” The conclusion is that we do not get engaged in good works as a means for obtaining salvation. Nor do we perform good works as a means of paying back God for His goodness.

We serve because we are saved.

We have been saved in order to serve the Lord, our Master, our God.

What makes it difficult to stick with that is the ideas and interpretations folks have that do not fit the theological framework of salvation. People believe half-truths that have been passed down for centuries from the pulpit to the pews. People take commentary as gospel. People accept the words of the pastor without checking the Scriptures like the believers in Berea (Acts 17:11).

The problem comes down to how folks accept and apply what they hear from others rather than placing their focus on what they hear from God.

Being called to salvation is the recruitment and enlistment into the kingdom of God, while it also ushers in the next phase of being called to serve the Lord. Just as we accept the terms of salvation, we must readily accept the terms of service to the Lord. The text in verse 10 says that “we should walk in them.” In other words, we should live out our faith in service, through good works.

The calling of a Christian is not just to salvation.  God wants us to understand that we were not just saved.

We were saved to serve the Lord.

 

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You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me-John 5:39

Many of us who claim to love Christ have yet to truly live for Christ.  In essence, we cannot live for Christ until we come to learn about Him.  As we learn about Him, we begin to live like Him.  In living like Him, we come into the glorious light of illumination towards living for Him.

To serve like Christ, we must:

  • Examine the Savior (Study Jesus)
  • Exemplify the Savior (Serve Jesus)

Examine the Savior (Study Jesus)

Start with the Scriptures

Jesus Himself said in the Gospel of John that the Scriptures testify about Him.  The truth about Jesus may be learned and understood through a thorough and consistent study of the God’s Holy Word.  It is this type of study that will revolutionize your relationship with the Lord and Savior of our salvation.  Devote yourself to the daily discipline of biblical study and devotional reading.

Read Sound Doctrine and Materials

Max Lucado wrote an epic book on Jesus aptly entitled No Wonder They all Him the Savior.  It is a simple, straightforward style that presents Jesus in plain everyday language.  Such are the works of brilliant and inspiring theologians.  Find the works of E.M. Bounds, Charles Spurgeon, Andrew Murray and A.W. Tozer as well as some other notable of the faith.

Exemplify the Savior (Serve Jesus)

The New Testament teaching is clearly stated in 1 John 2:6.  We are to walk as He walked.  Andrew Murray states it plainly, saying: “As He was, so we are to be.”

Serving Jesus includes serving like Jesus.  He has given us His own earthly example.

Follow his ministry and its message and methods.  Make a clear divide between what the world accepts and what the Lord commands of us.  Live by the latter of the two.

Some additional helpful resources:

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“Be not simply good – be good for something.”

– Henry David Thoreau

Imagine if you had nothing getting in your way, nothing holding you back.

What would you do with your life?

Could you see yourself doing whatever you could to help someone else?

Could you see beyond yourself and make a difference for someone else?

Just imagine if you had that opportunity.

No obstacles.

No opposition.

No other objective.

Just being in the position to do good for someone else, uplifting their spirit and blessing them through what God has already done for you.

Now it’s time for a reality check.

The only thing holding you back from doing such mighty works is you.

YOU…Your Own Unwillingness

If you could somehow shake that unwilling spirit, then you can do it.

Oh, that’s not you?

Then it must be. . .

YOU. . . Your Own Unworthiness

That is the pitiful self image that says that you are not worthy of doing good because you know that you are of no earthly good.  Our Bibles tell us that we are a “new creation” based upon the work of the Lord.  We are worthy!

So, you still think that’s not you?

How about. . .

YOU. . . Your Own Unfaithfulness

You just don’t believe that God can use you in such a way.  You don’t believe that you can be a blessing, especially since you are in the need of a blessing yourself.  Elijah was fed by ravens by a brook, and then he was fed by an impoverished widow.  There was another widow who gave all that she had when she placed two mites in the offering.

Get YOU out of the way and let God have His way.

Sit YOU down and set yourself up to be a blessing to someone.

Give YOU his walking papers and give God an open opportunity to use you like He’s never used you before.

He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God? – Micah 6:8 (NASB)

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“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” – John 10:11 (NKJV)

The modern society has made what we consider pastoring a mere shadow of what we truly should expect of the man of God today.  We may never get out of ordained and anointed pastoral leaders what we could get out of them because we can never drop or shed expecting more out of them than they have been called to ever do in the first place.

After all, just like the rest of us believers, pastors are Christians.  That point sometimes gets missed.  Plain and simple, they are Christians just like us.

Secondly, pastors are called from among the flock to stand set apart as “called” by God.  They’re still Christians but they have a greater responsibility in regards to standing firm and handling God’s Word.

Finally, God plucks out a set of His own chosen few to serve as pastors and shepherds.  He places His Spirit in them and allows manifestations of Word to emerge within their messages, sermons and Bible lessons. 

He uses them.  He molds them.  He shapes them.  He directs them.  He guides them.  He orders them.  He trains them.

After all, He called them. 

He called them to walk as He walked.  He called them to live as He once lived.  He called them to work just like Jesus did the works of the Father. 

If you want to see Jesus on display in your pastor, help your pastor do the things that allow Him to be display Himself in your pastor.  If you can’t help with that,  maybe you can just adjust your expectations.  After all, they’re still just Christians.

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I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving. – Psalm 69:30

I can publish praise of God openly with my voice.  However, I begin to wonder about the effectiveness of that praise in light of good works that reflect in the shadow of His wondrous works.  My works, no matter how much good that they actually do for God or others, are totally eclipsed and overshadowed by His great works.

This Thanksgiving say a prayer for those who seek to do good works.  Many will feed the homeless.  Some will offer them clothing and shelter.  Others will open their homes to them.  Some will go and spend volunteer time with wounded veterans while others will read to children in the cancer unit of the local hospital or wash feet at the neighborhood hospice.

Offer a prayer for those who offer their service.  Join the ranks of men and women who make Christ come alive for some people who will never set foot in a church’s sanctuary or crack open a Bible to find an inspirational passage.

Thank God as you give the world a glimpse of Him in action.  Remember, He could choose anyone.

It did not have to be you.  The least becomes greatest and the last becomes first in God’s economy and on His balance sheet.  We should be thankful to have been chosen and in a position to give back.

 


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Then He said to him, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many,  and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’  But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’  And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’  Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ – Luke 14:16-20

The parable reveals how believers can make excuses about what they are not willing to do despite what the Lord is inviting them to participate in with Him.  You see, His “great feast” is by invitation only but of “those who were invited” they all made excuses.

The church resembles the world when we consider the work od the church.  We have more people sitting than serving.  He have more people taking in the Word than those taking action with the Word.  In fact, we don’t accept the world’s 80/20 principle.  In the church, we have adjusted the odds to 90/10, accepting it more as fact rather than a challenge for us to overcome with prayer, fasting, teaching, training, and mentoring.

Jesus spoke of the cost of becoming His disciple throughout this very chapter of Luke (vv. 10-11, 13, 26-27, 33).  He reminds us that our main aim in this life is to live a life of sacrifice for His sake.  We sacrifice by taking a servant’s position, seeking to satisfy others more than ourselves.  As His disciples (followers), we are to serve those who cannot pay us back just as we are debtors to the One who paid a price that we cannot pay back (Luke 14:14).  By doing so, we support others and serve the Lord by reflecting His example and meeting His expectation of us.

Since we have been called by Christ, let us not turn back or create excuses.  For every reason why we won’t or don’t do more, He hung, suffered, bled, endured and died to give us all the reason that we need not to quit or walk away from His calling on our lives.

Don’t dwell in a place of complacency or mediocrity.   Get back on track with the Lord.  Give Him all of you, all that you have to give Him since nothing was held back when He save you and I.

We have been called by the Master.  We have been called and we cannot turn back, not now and not ever.

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And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves.
– Mark 6:31-32

Sometimes you have to get away.  At times, you would be better off to simply leave your current location and get some time away from everyone and everything else.  You just might need some alone time with God in a different venue.

It doesn’t mean that you cannot come back.  You just need to get away to get better and go forward.

Look at the disciples.  They had just done some miraculous work in the name of the Lord.  Earlier in that chapter, the Twelve were sent out to remove unclean spirits and share the Good News (see verses 7-9).  Upon their return, Jesus listened as they gave firsthand accounts of their work done in His name.  Yet, after hearing this, Jesus instructs them to Go away and get some rest in a “deserted place.”

We need to see how the Lord wants us working but not worn out by the work.  Burning out may be biblical because we can see it at different instances in the Bible but so is blasphemy and idolatry.  Yet, there are things that we should just do to get better such as resting from our labor.

Do you recall the biblical incident when the disciples could not help the desperate father and his demon-possessed son? Jesus shared that this kind required prayer and fasting for it to come out of the person.  We cannot fast on an empty stomach nor could we pray effectively for others with hunger growling in our bellies.  Our human frailty remind us of our own limits.  We need a rest to revive ourselves for further work.  We need to appreciate the time away as more than a vacation.  We need to see it as a means of recharging ourselves.

As we go further in ministry, we will come to recognize the importance of rest in our work.  At some point, we just have to get away.

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Reading the Gospel of Mark reveals the many movements of Jesus in His ministry.  It shows just how mobile Jesus made His earthly ministry.  He kept things moving.  He managed to minister while on the move.

The woman with an issue of blood occurred while Jesus was on the move.  Jesus healing the deaf and mute man in Decapolis happened while He was moving from one place to another.  Much of what Jesus does in the Gospel of Mark shows us that ministry can be mobilized to reach people here and there.

Yes, the Lord does demonstrate how it can work outside of the church.  He shows us how we can serve others with our gifts and abilities as we come and go on this earth.  We see the Lord at work, serving men, woemn and children and meeting needs as He goes about His daily business.

Search through the Gospel of Mark and discover how to minister to others outside of the sanctuary.  See how we can do more outside of the church building to share with others and lead them to Christ.  Read it and see for yourself that the Lord wants us working.  In other words, He wants us serving.

This week we continue in Mark chapter 8 and see a blind man healed, Peter confessing Jesus to be the Christ, and Jesus predicting His own death at the hands of those who will reject Him.  Complete our latest pop-up quiz on Mark today.

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Okay, folks, it’s on again.  It’s an election year without a doubt.  The political groundswell is up and running with a lot of fanfare, especially in those little local elections.  It’s here again.  Obviously, that means there will be a whole lot of hype.

What kind of hype? I believe that any of us who have lived through the longsuffering agony of election years in the past have some understanding of the grandstanding that usually comes along with such a period.  Political muscles are flexed, in particular by those who work for candidates in PR and publicity, offering an appearance by their candidate here and there for this worthy cause or that one.  Usually, these folks are more pesky than anything that the politician may say or do.  They work the nerves of some folks in the church and community who toil by the sweat of their brow to do good, only to have some cheesy photo op replace the goodwill that the good folks seek to do.

Let’s look at it beyond the media hype that can be generated by candidates rolling up their sleeves and pitching in to pass out food to needy families or to sit and read before a classroom of wide-eyed and attentive elementary school children.  Yes, the camera flashes snap and the video is rolling, but we cannot become caught up or thrown off by such media frenzy during such times.

Some of this can help despite all of the seemingly unnecessary hype that comes along with it.  Political campaigns have a following of dedicated supporters who fund and man such large scale and long term endeavors.  We can benefit from a candidate coming down with his entire entourage and offering some helping hands in the name of getting out there among the people to gain votes for themselves and increase the visibility of their own campaigns.  Believe it or not, these volunteers can provide the necessary manpower to boost our efforts to reach more and serve more.

Weigh your options.  If you truly cannot stomach some would-be politician coming to your event to make himself or herself appear to be on the same level as the people, only to run off to Washington or Sacramento, or just down to city hall, and never be heard from again, then don’t bother.  Don’t accept the help or the hype.  However, if you think that the partnership could shed some light on your cause and make the evening news, you may want to think it through thoroughly.

They want the hype.  They need it.  They want the media to come out and snap photos of them doing good in the neighborhood.  Their campaign desperately needs to be seen as something vital to the needs of the community.  When they come, they come with a whole lot of hype.  However, they can also come with a whole lot of help.

27 Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ so that—whether I command see you or whether I remain absent—I should hear that you are standing in one spirit, by contending together with one mind for the faith of the gospel, 28 and by not being frightened in any way by your opponents. This is a sign of their destruction, but of your salvation—a sign which is from God. – Philippians 1:27-28

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Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.
– Acts 13:1-3 (NKJV)

Our assignments come from the Almighty.  He can set us apart for the work that He alone calls us to do in His name and for His sake.  He can single us out and call us out “for the special work”  that He has for us to do (v. 2, New Living Translation).  Even when there are other teachers, preachers, evangelists and prophets in the vicinity, He can still call for us to be separated from everyone else.

Such a calling is a heavy responsibility.  It requires us to act on it once we have accepted it. 

Look at Paul and Barnabas.  Look at the work that they did immediately folowing being set apart for this assignment of “special work.” They took action with their assignment.  They had all of the confirmation that they needed to go.  They had gone through all of the preparations that you could imagine necessary, not possible.  Fasting, praying and the laying on of hands were all part of what took place prior to sending them out.

Imagine what you would do if and when the Lord calls you out.  Try to picture your response to the Lord picking you out for “special work.” Go on and respond with some action.

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