The Heart of a Servant

“That piety which sanctifies us, and which is a true devotion to God, consists in doing all His will precisely at the time, in the situation and under the circumstances, in which He has placed us.  Perfect devotedness requires, not only that we do the will of God, but that we do it with love.  God would have us serve Him with delight.  It is our hearts that He asks of us.”  Francois De La Mothe Fenelon

As I prepared for my first Sunday School lesson on spiritual gifts, I began studying what the gifts are not.  They are not fruit of the Spirit:  love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, self-control, goodness, faithfulness. These qualities are also gifts of the Holy Spirit, but they are given to and expected of every Christian.  The spiritual gifts are varied, and assigned to specific individuals.

The fruit of the Spirit does, however, tell us the manner in which we are to use our gifts.  Remember how the apostle Paul said:

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” 1 Corinthians 13:1

If we exercise our gifts in ways that are impatient, unloving, rude or unkind, they become worthless.  We must not only have the hands of a servant, we must have the heart of a servant.  This is harder to achieve, but much more satisfying than just going through the motions in order to “do our duty.”

How can we develop the heart of a servant?  I know I can’t do it on my own.  It comes only through surrender to God.  It comes only imperfectly on this side of eternity.  I’m praying today for a servant’s heart.  What about you?

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Make Me a Servant

When Kelly Willard was asked how her song, Make Me A Servant, came to be written, this is how she answered:

“Well, it’s pretty simple, what happened. I was at home, and the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart saying very gently, “You know, you could stand to have a little more of a servant heart.” I went straight to my piano and began playing and singing this prayer…”Make me a servant, humble and meek, Lord let me lift up those who are weak…And, may the prayer of my heart always be, make me a servant, make me a servant, make me a servant today.” I still pray for a servant’s heart.”

Let Kelly’s plea sink into your heart and make you a servant today!

Who Do You Serve? #2

“Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward;  you are serving the Lord, Jesus Christ.”  Colossians 3:23-24

I talked in a previous post about how we sometimes dislike serving because of what we are expected to do;  we also often fail to serve because of “who” is doing the asking.  Maybe it’s the parent who mistreated you as a child — now they’re elderly and need your help.  Maybe it’s the unappreciative and critical boss — quick to call on you to fix a problem, but slow with words of praise.  Maybe it’s the needy friend who never seems to have time for you, but expects you to instantly jump to her aid when she calls.  Maybe you don’t even like serving the needy–I mean, why weren’t they more responsible in the first place?

It’s a fact.  Serving others often means serving those we don’t particularly like or admire.  Serving means helping those who are undeserving and even critical.  Are we really called to do this?

Well, the short answer is yes.

“If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?”  Matthew 5:46

The reasoning is this: first of all, we’re not really serving those unlovable people in our lives, we’re serving God.  We shouldn’t expect a “reward” for our service in the here and now.  That comes later, and it will be amazingly indescribable:  eternity with the One who created us.   Secondly, those undeserving wretches you don’t want to serve — well the Bible tells us,  ” such were some of you.”  1 Corinthians 7:11.  The only difference is:

“But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”  1 Corinthians 11

Jesus didn’t save us because we were worthy.  He served us and saved us out of love, compassion and mercy.  He wants us to follow His example.  So, go in peace and serve the Lord!

 

 

What Then Shall We Do?

“And the crowds asked him (John the Baptist), ‘What then shall we do?  And he answered them, ‘Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none and whoever has food is to do likewise.  Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, ‘Teacher, what shall we do?’  And he said to them, ‘Collect no more than you are authorized to do.  Soldiers then asked him, ‘And we, what shall we do?’  And he said to them, ‘Do not extort money from anyone by threats for false accusation, and be content with your wages.'”  Luke 3:10-14

 

This was part of the gospel reading in church this past Sunday, and the passage on which the sermon was based.  John the Baptist has just finished rebuking the people for their sins and lack of repentance, and their response is “What shall we do?”

You may remember that we discussed repentance a few months back, and I believe more than one of the Lutheran ladies mentioned that the literal meaning of this word is ‘to turn around’ or ‘go in another direction.’  John the Baptist is telling the crowd that they must turn around and do something different–they must serve others.

He doesn’t tell them to change their occupations or do anything drastic about their circumstances;  they just need to go about their lives in a way that is helpful and fair to others.  Soldiers are not to intimidate;  tax collectors are not to cheat;  everyone who has plenty must share with those who are in need;  everyone is to be content with what they have.

Seems pretty simple, right?  However, we’re still not doing it!  How often do we abuse our authority over others?  How often do we take a little more than we’re entitled to?  How often do we envy that person with the bigger house, nicer car, or glamorous vacations?  How willing are we to give our extra coat or extra cash to the homeless man on the corner?

If you’re anything like me, you don’t always do what you should.  We’re still a brood of vipers and we still need to repent and try every single day to do a little better at being a servant.  It doesn’t come naturally.

Thankfully John also preached some good news.  He said:

“I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”  Luke 3:16

Advent is a time of waiting and a time of repentance.  A time to reflect upon the servanthood of Christ and to try to become better servants ourselves.  Use this special season wisely.  Serve others.

AFLC 2019 Bible Study for Women

Every year the AFLC(Association of Free Lutheran Churches) Women publish a Bible Study written by a WMF (Women’s Missionary Federation) member.  I wrote the 2017 study which was on the book of Acts.  This year, the study was written by Beverly Enderlein and is entitled, God’s Servants Teach Us Life Lessons.  Since our theme this month is Servants of the Lord, it seemed like an opportunity to highlight it.  Here are the chapters:

LESSON 1 A POOR WIDOW…Obedience brings blessings
LESSON 2 RUTH…The Romance of Redemption                                         LESSON 3 THE WOMAN AT THE WELL…Jesus Satisfies completely and forever
LESSON 4 A LITTLE FAMILY IN BETHANY…We Shall Rise Again
LESSON 5 HANNAH…A Godly Mother
LESSON 6 ADAM AND EVE…The Problem of Temptation
LESSON 7 JOSEPH…God Working Out His Perfect Plan (Part 1)
LESSON 8 JOSEPH…God Working Out His Perfect Plan (Part 2)
LESSON 9 NEHEMIAH…Build A Strong Wall of Christlike Living
LESSON 10 STEPHEN…How to Die Victoriously
LESSON 11 DORCAS…Showing My Love For Jesus in Practical Ways
LESSON 12 MARY, MOTHER OF JESUS…God Keeps His Word

For further study on servanthood, you might like to purchase this guide, or just use the topics to do some research on your own.  The Bible is full of examples of servanthood, and we can all learn from good role models.

If you are interested in purchasing this study, or learning more about the Women’s Missionary Federation, you can go to this link for more information.  Happy studying!

https://www.aflc.org/women/resources/bible-studies/

An English Major Moment from Joan

This poem was written by George Herbert, a Welsh-born poet and priest in the Church of England.  It speaks about how our everyday duties can be transformed when our service is dedicated to God and His Glory.

The Elixir

Teach me, my God and King,
         In all things Thee to see,
And what I do in anything
         To do it as for Thee.
         Not rudely, as a beast,
         To run into an action;
But still to make Thee prepossest,
         And give it his perfection.
         A man that looks on glass,
         On it may stay his eye;
Or if he pleaseth, through it pass,
         And then the heav’n espy.
         All may of Thee partake:
         Nothing can be so mean,
Which with his tincture—”for Thy sake”—
         Will not grow bright and clean.
         A servant with this clause
         Makes drudgery divine:
Who sweeps a room as for Thy laws,
         Makes that and th’ action fine.
         This is the famous stone
         That turneth all to gold;
For that which God doth touch and own
         Cannot for less be told.

Martin Luther on Serving Others

“To find Christ in such poverty, and what his swaddling clothes and manger signify, are explained … that his poverty teaches how we should find him in our neighbors, the lowliest and the most needy; and his swaddling clothes are the holy Scriptures; that in actual life we should incline to the needy; and in our studies and contemplative life only to the Scriptures; in order that Christ alone may become the man of both lives and that he may everywhere stand before us.”

Martin Luther

the Martin Luther monument in Dresden (Germany) Stock Photo - 69303219