Friday, April 25, 2014

Serving God Where He Places You ~ by Christy

Learn all you can, about all you can, while you can.  This is a saying some friends of ours tell their children to encourage them to seek after learning new things every day.  And being a teacher at heart, I have started saying it to my own children.  My Grandma Leitha used to live this out, even though I never heard her say it out loud.  I have good memories of her teaching me things while I was visiting her.  I learned to sew and bake at her house.  And she always had books on her shelves for me to read.

"Ask, and it shall be given you;  seek, and ye shall find, knock, and it shall be opened unto you."
Matthew 7:7

"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not;  and it shall be given him."  James 1:5

I did not grow up in a Christian home.  I didn’t surrender my life to Jesus Christ until I was a young adult.  As a new Christian, I had many hurts and expectations that needed to be sifted through the word of God.  I am so grateful for God’s faithfulness to me and his patience with me as I have been learning to be more Christ like in all areas of my life. 

In the years before I became a Christian and too many of the years after I knew Christ, I failed to yield my expectations in life to God.  I was angry for the way things had transpired in my life, especially during my growing up years.  Each one of us has events or circumstances in our lives that are unchangeable.  It is easy to become angry or unsettled inside when we can’t have things our way.  But God is be working in ways that we don’t understand.  I have seen many blessings come out of my trials.

As I  learned to surrender my expectations to God and get my attention off myself, God started to show me that there were people in my small sphere of influence that I could serve.  I had been spending so much time being in emotional turmoil about my life’s unchangeable events, that I hadn’t even noticed that God had plans for me and things for me to do.  I could start by having a heart of serving toward my family, yielding my expectations to the Lord.   This I did one moment at a time.

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart;  and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes;  fear the Lord, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel and marrow to thy bones."  Pr. 3:5-8

I began to realize that many of my expectations had been with wrong motives-selfishness.  Through his word, God was teaching me that I could trust him with my expectations and that His ways are higher than mine.
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9

The faithfulness of God’s Word encouraged me to serve in new ways-and God was giving me peace.  A friend and mentor  of mine always told me that peace and righteousness kiss each other. The Lord was working sanctification in my life.   I was learning to serve not to be seen by others but to bring honor to the name of Christ.

God has placed each one of us in a unique place to serve others.  And this will bring glory to God!  As we engraft his word into our life and surrender our expectations to him, we more effectively represent the character of Christ to others.  It frees us to serve others with right motives so we can be truly cheerful as we serve.

Learn all you can, about all you can, while you can.
  I hope you are encouraged through my experience to engraft his Word into your life, yield your expectations to God and serve him with your whole heart.

"Wherewithall shall a young man cleanse his way?  By taking heed thereto according to thy word.
With my whole heart have I sought thee:  O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Blessed art thou, O Lord: teach me thy statutes. With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth. I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches. I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. I will delight myself in thy statutes:  I will not forget thy word." Psalm 119:9-16

Friday, April 18, 2014

When I Ponder Calvary ~ by Amy Vest

I cannot find the words to say,
What Jesus means to me.
Or the awe that fills my heart,
When I ponder Calvary.

The perfect, sinless Son of God,
Came to earth to ransom me.
He took the punishment I deserved,
So my soul could be set free.

He faced ridicule and judgment,
And suffered cruel death,
Knowing separation from the Father,
Before His final breath.

He descended into hell,
Claiming life and death’s keys.
And rose again to life,
In triumphant victory.

He stands now and offers,
Full salvation from our sins,
And His resurrection life,
To all who trust and yield to Him.

For those whom He has ransomed,
Belongs the joy of being free,
To know, to love, to serve our God,
As His, eternally.

I cannot find the words to say,
What Jesus means to me.
Or the awe that fills my heart,
When I ponder Calvary.

~ Amy Vest, 2014

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Serving Because of Jesus ~ By Amy Vest

Real life is found in dying to self and living for Jesus and others for God’s glory.  This truth has been running through my mind this week.  This is what Jesus has done and calls us to follow in His steps.  
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45 

“For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” John 13:15

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,  but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,  so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  Phil. 2:5-11

Jesus emptied Himself and gave His all – so that we may come to Him.  We are called to do the same – to empty ourselves and give – by His life in us.  In this He is glorified, we find joy, and others are blessed.  We have been abundantly served by Jesus in salvation and His life in us - and have all we need in Him to turn and serve others for His glory.

We serve:

1. By His life in us – Jesus’ transforming life through salvation and His Spirit living within us, moving our hearts to serve out of love for Him and longing for others to know Him vs. our natural selfish heart focusing on our own needs and being served.  Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God.” 2 Cor. 3:5
2. By His life through us – The life, love, and grace of Jesus pouring through us to others, bearing eternal fruit vs. trying to serve in our own strength, which is impossible and does not bear eternal fruit.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” 2 Cor. 4:7
3. For His glory – With our eyes fixed on Jesus, the building of His Kingdom, and Him receiving all of the glory vs. on ourselves, building our own reputation, and people thinking well of and praising us.
whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Cor. 10:13

As He serves like this through us; we will know Him in new ways, His Kingdom will be advanced, and the world will see something different than the norm of self-serving, which will open doors to share the One who satisfies – for His glory.

This serving is a:
- Heart attitude – wherever you are: from the tiniest little task to a major team opportunity
- Lifestyle – all of the time: not just when you get in “ministry mode”
- Pursuit – something to always be pursuing and asking the Lord to shape in your heart and lead you in

Serving takes so many forms in our lives - helping your little sister pick up her toys, or washing the dishes after a church dinner, or sharing at a conference.  Regardless of what we are doing, what is most important is why and the way we are doing it = the heart attitude we are doing it with and that we are being obedient to where the Lord is calling us to serve out of a desire to please and bring glory to Him.

This morning I was preparing to leave for a worship service and was asked to do a task that I was not planning into my time schedule before I left.  While the task was important, what was more important was if my heart was responding by the Lord’s grace in humble willingness to help and give in love for Jesus and others.

I want to daily, moment by moment live with my eyes fixed on Jesus and my heart in that place of a servant’s heart – alert to wherever He is calling me to let Him work through me for the glory of His name.

He is worthy, and, oh, the joy of His life pouring through us for His glory and Kingdom and the blessing of others!

As you reflect this weekend on how Jesus came “…to serve, and give his life a ransom for many.”, may your heart embrace His serving ransom in salvation with worshipful surrender and a longing for Him to flow through you to serve others for His glory.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Seeing and Savoring God while on the Unseen Path ~ by Nicole

“For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward Him.” - 2 Chronicles 16:9

Have you ever felt discouraged and unrecognized, like your actions were invisible to others?  Does God see your hurting heart and unseen circumstances?  Does he have a purpose for those seasons of invisible yet faithful ministry? These are questions that you may ask in different seasons of life and questions that are worth finding the answer to.  God may call you to a season of service to him that is not recognized by others.  Does this mean that that your ministry is unimportant or that God has put you on the back burner?  No! Take a moment to pause and ponder the reality that the God of the universe - the all-seeing and ever present Father – sees you.  Such treasures are gained when we obey our Savior as he leads us into unseen paths of service.

I am the third child of seven.  I live with my parents and six siblings, as well as two adult women who have disabilities.  Over the last few years, God brought many changes to our home.  Many of which changed our family dynamics and routines. Life sometimes felt like a whirlwind.  For many months there were times of discouragement and loneliness. Although I was happy to serve in the capacities that the Lord placed me in, many of these opportunities were unseen by others.  During this time the Lord decided to show me treasures.  The situations that he allowed humbled and strengthened me!  The Lord gently led me to great joys, and now I thank him for the rocky road that I walked with him. He showed me many things…
1.      If God is with me, I can be satisfied… truly satisfied, content and well! He’s my ever-present Father!  I grew to know him in a way I never had before.  He saw every tear.  He was with me.  He heard my every cry for help (Psalm 91:14-15). 
2.       John 15:5 says, “I am the vine; you are the branches.  Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” 
3.       God is working for his glory and our joy in him.  He doesn’t make mistakes and he loves his daughters too much to keep them from trials that will increase their joy and faith!

Dear sisters, life is exciting and new, challenging and difficult and constantly changing!  Never minimize his presence, his plan and his purpose in the little and big things.  Know that the approval of your heavenly Father is infinitely more valuable than the recognition of others.  Let him lead, and be prepared for a life of joy in the satisfying One as you serve him behind the scenes!
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace.”

“Here I am! Send me.”

"And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”  ~ Isaiah 6:8

Will this be your heart's prayer to the Lord today?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Serving as Unto Jesus ~ by Margie

Colossians 3:23, "Whatever you do, work heartily, and for the Lord and not for men..."

Most days I really enjoy serving my family at home, yet for many years I did it in my own strength!  How much better it has been since I kneel at the beginning of most mornings and pray something like "Lord, what I do this day, I do for You. Help me to serve You with joy and may You get the glory."  Life lived in this way is much more satisfying! I am now not just doing things to check them off my list, but to serve Jesus and diligently (hopefully) accomplish the tasks that He has given me.  What a difference!

Some days when I am more tired than others,  the verse that has encouraged me so much is 2 Corinthians 12:9,  "But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me."  How wonderful to live knowing that He will give me His grace, and that in my weakness He is strong!

Before a conference we were attending at a small church, the pastor's wife was cheerfully setting out food for us all.  I commented on her joyful attitude about serving.  Answering me, she spoke words I will never forget.  She smiled at me and said, "The Lord's work is never burdensome." 
What an impact her words have had on me!  I have repeated them many times.  And I am asking Him to give me that attitude about what He gives me to do.  All that is done for Him is never lost.  If I make a nice meal, and nobody notices or comments, but I've done it for the Lord, it's okay.  If He is pleased I can have joy.
If we have dishes, that means we had food.

 Thank You for these dirty dishes, Lord!  If the house gets dirty or messy, that means there are loved ones living here to dirty it. Thank You for them, Lord! Jesus, help me to have Your mind and perspective on things!

There is a poem that begins:

"Only one life, will soon be past,                       
                 Only what's done for Christ will last."
We all have many tasks to do each day.  Let's live our lives serving as unto Jesus!