A Quote on Serving

This was part of my devotional reading this morning, and I enjoyed it so much I thought I’d share.  The writer is Elizabeth Charles, who was an Anglican.  She wrote over 50 books, but her best known was a story about Martin Luther, The Chronicles of the Schonberg-Cotta Family.  It was published in 1862 and subsequently translated into most of the European languages, Arabic and many Indian dialects.

“Surely none are so full of cares, or so poor in gifts, that to them also, waiting patiently and trustfully on God for His daily commands, He will not give direct ministry for Him, increasing according to their strength and their desire.  There is so much to be set right in the world, so many to be led and helped and comforted, that we must continually come in contact with such in our daily life.  Let us only take care, that, by the glance being turned inward, or strained onward, or lost in reverie, we do not miss our turn of service, and pass by those to whom we might have been sent on an errand straight from God.

In other words, there are opportunities to use our gifts and serve God all around us, every single day. Open your eyes!  Don’t miss your chance!

God loves you and so do I,

Joan

 

 

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How Have I Served?

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10-11

The end of the year is a good time to look back and not only reflect on how I have served others this year, but to make a plan for the coming year.  The verse above tells us that as faithful workers for God, serving is our responsibility …. but how seriously do we actually take it?

Sure, I serve others, but rather haphazardly.  I wait for someone to ask, for a group at church to choose a ministry or for a donation request to arrive in the mail.  I have to admit I rarely sit down and ask myself, “What goals do I have for serving others?” and “How will I reach those goals?”

My “Prevent Diabetes” class has taught me that I can accomplish more than I thought when I have a clear goal and a plan.  Our plan for service should include using the specific, individual gifts which God has given.  I can’t do everything, so I need to concentrate on those things that I do best.

I don’t have the answers yet, because this thought has just now occurred to me.  It’s something I’ll be praying about, and I’m hoping this post will encourage others to do the same.  Look for more on this topic in January as I wrestle with myself and God.  One thing that will definitely be on my list is this blog, which uses both my passion for writing, and (hopefully) my spiritual gifts of wisdom and encouragement.  Have we served you this year, readers?  I’d love to hear some responses.

Get Ready to Get Dirty

“But Jesus called to them and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them.  It shall not be so among you;  but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave;  even as the Son of man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’.”  Matthew 20:25-28

The sermon at the Christmas Eve service at St. Paul’s was entitled, “Jesus Got Dirty.”  The Son of God was born, not in a sterile hospital room, but a stable, filled with animal smells and rotting straw.  He was welcomed by sweaty, travel-worn, unwashed people.  Think about it …. if a feeding trough was the cleanest place to lay a newborn, what were the rest of the surroundings like?  Jesus, the purest person ever, was willing to get dirty to serve us.  Why?  Well, there was no other choice.  Justice had to be satisfied, and it had to be satisfied by a human being.  So Jesus came down into our mess in order to redeem our lives.

This should tell us something important about service.  If we’re to be servants, there are plenty of times when we’ll get dirty.  Sometimes the dirt will just be the everyday grime of life — cleaning up the garage, washing the feet of the elderly, changing babies and cooking meals.  Other times, we’ll find ourselves dealing with the mud created by sinful behavior, selfish decisions and untidy circumstances. Often we won’t know what we’re getting into until we’re mired in that mud as well.

Serving isn’t easy and it isn’t neat.  We’ll deal with death and divorce, disease and distasteful duties. The people we’ll serve won’t always be “nice” or even appreciative. We’ll get dirty… but Jesus was willing to get dirty for us … are we willing to continue His work and get dirty for others?

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.

I’m Too Good for This

“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘LORD,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your LORD and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” John 13:13-17

Face it,  ladies, aren’t there times when we all feel that we’re too good to waste our time serving others?  Changing diapers, packing lunches, scrubbing the toilet — these are not generally seen as tasks that fulfill us or enrich our lives. Taking time to listen to a whiney teenager, visiting an elderly relative who rambles on and on or cheerfully assisting our annoying boss can become tiresome and irritating. Sometimes we feel unappreciated.  Does anyone even SEE what we’re doing? The effort we put into making somebody else’s life a little smoother? The things we put up with in order to help somebody else?  In the verses above, Jesus reminds us of two things:

  1. He himself was willing to serve.  He was God, yet He not only washed feet, He gave his life for ungrateful, sinful wretches like you and me.  We should never be unwilling to serve others when we reflect upon His example.
  2. When we serve we will be blessed.  Maybe we won’t be blessed with worldly recognition or wealth, but we will be blessed by loving relationships.  Plus we will receive the recognition that really matters when we hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant” from Jesus, our Lord.

Remember, nobody wishes on their death bed that they had spent more time accumulating stuff.  Nobody remembers their parents or friends fondly because they were rich or famous.  In the end what matters most are the many, small, caring deeds we do for others.  The things we think are go unnoticed.

So serve cheerfully.  Develop a servant’s heart. You’re not too good for this.