In yesterday’s post I talked about the difference between a believer in Jesus and a follower of Jesus. As I said, the first is sincere in accepting Jesus as Lord and savior of their lives but fall short on what it means to follow Jesus. To further define and provide examples of following Jesus, the remainder of this post discusses where you can provide Christian service both inside the church and in the community.
Any service that reflects Jesus’ love is “Christian service.” From giving a cup of water (Mark 9:41) to dying for someone (John 15:13), there are as many types of Christian service as there are needs in the world. Very few involve activity within the four walls of the church.
The Bible gives some specific examples of Christian service: show hospitality to strangers (Hebrews 13:2), remember those in prison (Matthew 25:36), provide for the needy (Matthew 25:35), and mentor others (Titus 2:2-8). Some examples speak to our day-to-day living: care for children (Matthew 18:5), tend families (Titus 2:5), treat employees fairly (Colossians 4:1), deal honestly with customers (Leviticus 19:36), and be diligent with employers’ resources (Matthew 25:14-30). As long as the act is done “in Jesus’ name”—that is, it is motivated by the love of Jesus—it is Christian service.
There are thousands of organizations outside the church committed to serving others. Homeless shelters, housing builders, and food banks always need volunteers and donations. Internationally, organizations like Compassion International provide food, clothing, and education for children in sometimes dangerous situations. Other ministries provide water, micro-loans, or resources such as farm animals to enable the child’s family to generate their own income.
The world outside the walls of the church offers many opportunities for those specifically educated in theology. Chaplains serve hospitals, military bases, and shipping ports. Foreign missionaries travel overseas to plant churches and train indigenous pastors. Parachurch ministries provide biblical guidance for families and others in need. And internet ministries like Got Questions are always in need of those who can explain the truth of God in a loving, easy-to-understand way.
The world is in desperate need of Christians willing to show the love of Christ through their actions. Jesus said the second greatest commandment was to love others—not sentimentally, but tangibly. Every action performed out of kindness, powered by the understanding of Christ and His love, is Christian service.
If the Lord’s silence is good for us, then how should we respond when we feel as if there’s a wall blocking our access to Him? The only way to break through is to keep on praying. It’s important that we remain on our knees and continue talking to Him.
First, pray to God, requesting that He let you know the reason for His silence. While Jesus was on the cross, He demonstrated that we can approach the heavenly Father with our questions. (See Mark 15:34.) Our Lord invites us to talk with Him about anything because He understands us perfectly. He knows the motivation behind what we’re asking and has an accurate read on where we’re at spiritually.
Second, ask Him to reveal His will for your life and to guide you. Remember that His timing may not match yours.
Third, trust Him. Be still in the Lord’s presence as He works in your life, and believe that He always sees the way clearly, whether or not you do. Be aware that God desires for His children to listen—even when we feel as if He’s not talking, even when we feel like giving up.
Finally, open the Bible and start reading. The Holy Spirit living within you will interpret God’s Word to your heart, and you’ll begin to hear Him speaking to you.
In addition to talking to God, practice being silent in His presence. When you listen carefully, He will satisfy the deepest longings of your heart with a sense of Himself. Then feelings of anxiety will give way to peace.
The Word of God is not a trifle; it is a matter of life and death. If you treat the Scriptures as a trifle or as empty words, you forfeit life.
Even our physical life depends on God’s Word, because by his Word we were created (Psalm 33:6; Hebrews 11:3) and “He upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3).
Our spiritual life begins by the Word of God: “Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth” (James 1:18). “You have been born again . . . through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Peter 1:23).
Not only do we begin to live by God’s Word, but we also go on living by God’s Word: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4; Deuteronomy 8:3).
Our physical life is created and upheld by the Word of God, and our spiritual life is quickened and sustained by the Word of God. How many stories could be gathered to bear witness to the life-giving power of the Word of God!
Indeed, the Bible is “no empty word for you” — it is your life! The foundation of all joy is life. Nothing is more fundamental than sheer existence — our creation and our preservation.
All this is owing to the Word of God’s power. By that same power, he has spoken in Scripture for the creation and sustenance of our spiritual life. Therefore, the Bible is no empty word, but is your very life — the kindling of your joy!
Throughout the Bible, we see evidence of God’s authority over both humanity and nature. However, many of us have trouble reconciling God’s sovereign control with the existence of evil. Let’s look at what Scripture tells us.
In the beginning, God created a perfect world, after which He declared that all He had made was good (Gen. 1:31). Wickedness was not part of what He’d fashioned. In the heavens, however, an angel known as Satan sought to elevate himself above God and was cast down to earth (Isa. 14:12-14).
God created Adam and Eve in His image. They were made with the capacity to love their Creator and the ability to choose to obey or disobey Him. God had no desire for Adam and Eve to sin (James 1:13), but He allowed their will to be tested. We know the rest of the story. When they disobeyed God, sin entered our world and corrupted mankind. As Adam and Eve’s descendants, we inherited a sinful nature (Rom. 5:12).
The Lord’s permissive will allowed events to unfold as they have. God did not create evil, but He has permitted it to exist and uses it to accomplish His good purposes (Isa. 45:6-7).
When you have questions or doubts about the Lord’s sovereignty, start with what you do understand, study what God has revealed about Himself and His ways, and ask the Holy Spirit to help you believe. A few answers to your questions will come quickly, while some will require diligent study and spiritual maturity. As for the answers to other questions, which God has chosen to keep hidden, we are to walk by faith (Deut. 29:29).
Step into almost any bookstore, and you will find volumes covering every topic imaginable. Want new direction for your life? Self-help sections are extremely popular and accessible. Are your children disobeying? Parenting literature abounds. But do all of these “expert” authors have trustworthy credentials?
There is a place to find guidance and information that won’t ever mislead: The Bible will bless and benefit everyone who reads and applies its wisdom. Here’s what the Author—“the God of truth” (Isa. 65:16)—says about His own Word:
1. The Bible gives direction for life (Psalm 119:105). God uses His Word to lead us, no matter what our circumstances may be. The Holy Spirit can take even simple verses, which seem general at first glance, and apply them to our specific situation.
2. Scripture strengthens us when we grieve or face difficulty (Psalm 119:28, Psalm 119:116). By spending time processing what God says, we’re reminded that He loves us, cares about our situation, and can handle whatever we’re facing. Worry and pain turn into peace, hope, and joyful confidence.
3. God’s Word helps us understand our inner motivations (Heb. 4:12). Scripture acts like a mirror that lets us see ourselves as we truly are.
The Bible is the very mind of God put into words so that man can know his Maker more fully. In deepening our understanding of the heavenly Father, we learn how to live successfully and die unafraid.
To what extent do you depend upon this amazing Book as your foundation for life?
Scripture references: Philippians 2:3-4 and Matthew 25.
In yesterday’s post I introduced the question that might be asked of you by the Lord on the day you stand before Him and account for your life. The question asked was, “What have you done with the life I’ve given you?” If you take time to reflect on this question, it really makes you think.
In today’s times we get wrapped up in doing our thing. You know, going to work, watching TV, going out to eat, and partying with friends to name a few. But, where in the midst of all this activity or just “doing”, have you spent time reading God’s word and/or praying to him? By doing this you’ll discover what God says.
The bible gives us direction on that. Philippians 2:3-4 says, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”
Did you catch that last part? Do not merely look out for your personal interests, but also for the interests of others. What interests you might ask? Food, clothing, a place to live, money to live on to name a few. Have you given lately to the poor and needy? I don’t mean just giving money but being present yourself when giving.
Matthew 25 discusses a lot of this through parables that Jesus told. They are the parable of the ten virgins, the parable of the bags of gold and the parable of the sheep and goats. This chapter is pretty intense when you realize that God is saying to you, us, that we should always be prepared for his return (10 virgins); we should give more than we receive which results in having more (Bags of gold); and finally the sheep and the goats. This is where the rubber meets the road.
The sheep and the goats represent those who did things for the least of these which is Jesus and those who didn’t do anything for the least of these which are the goats and Jesus separates them to eternal darkness.
The life we have on this earth is short compared to eternity. God is giving us his direction on how to live a fulfilled life while at the same time giving of yourself to those in need. Living a life of selfless giving results in spending eternity with God and all that He has prepared for you.
Take time today to schedule time for reading the bible and prayer. Listen to and do what God is telling you and you will come out on top every time. You’ll be in with the sheep and not the goats. Guaranteed.
I am back from recovering from a flu shot. Some of you might think that a pretty lame excuse for not posting in my blog. Well, friends, let me tell you that as you get older the impact the flu shot has on your body is significant. So, now that I am rested and feeling better I am back to posting.
Today is Monday and the start of another week. If you’re like me, when you woke up this morning you probably started thinking about all of the things you have to do. Not only today but the rest of the week. OK, so your busy taking care of business and providing for your family but what about the spiritual side of your life? Have you planned any time in your schedule this week for reading the bible and praying? Figuring out how to serve the Lord along with your other activities is important too.
In tomorrow’s post I am going to ask the question, “What have you done with the life God has given you?” I would venture to say that question might cause a number of us to stumble but the importance of the question can’t be overstated.