The Ultimate Servant…

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Matthew 20:20-28 (KJV)

20 Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him.
21 And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom.
22 But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able.
23 And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.
24 And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren. 25 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.
26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;
27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:
28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Christians are identified by a variety of names in the Bible—such as believers, brothers, and saints—but one title we seldom call ourselves is “servants of Christ.”

However, that is exactly what the Lord tells us to be.

After His disciples wrangled about who was the greatest, Jesus turned their worldly thinking upside down with a call to become great in the kingdom by being a servant of all.

Christ is not just our Savior but also our Lord and Master, and we are to follow His example.

Just as He served His Father by caring for people, so we serve our God by lovingly meeting the temporal and spiritual needs of those around us.

Service is essential for spiritual growth.

God is always at work in the believer’s life, transforming his character into the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29). A major hindrance in this process is self-centeredness. Serving others is one of the tools that the Lord uses to set us free from the slavery of selfishness.

Service is required to achieve God’s purpose for our lives.

The Lord has designed specific works for each of us to accomplish in our lifetime (Eph. 2:10). If we only take in and never give out, we will miss much of what He has planned for us.

Never forget that you have a high calling, which is realized only by lowering yourself to the level of a servant.

Look for the opportunities that the Lord will give you today to serve someone.

Take your place alongside Christ, who was the ultimate servant of all.

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A Deeper Reverence…

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1 Peter 1:15-21 (KJV)

15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:
18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;
19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,
21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.

God’s children are called to live holy lives that are marked by a deep reverence for Him.

One strong motivation for righteous living is the cross and what it represents.

  • First, the cross is a reminder of our original position as outsiders, separated from God because of sin.
  • Second, it points to our need for a Savior. Divine justice decrees that the penalty for sin is death (Rom.6:23). But the only acceptable payment is a blood sacrifice from a life without defect (Lev. 17:11; Deut. 17:1). Since we’re all guilty, we can’t pay for our own sins.
  • Third, it was on the cross that Jesus took our place and endured God’s wrath so we could be forgiven. Fourth, the crucifixion marks the time when God’s justice was satisfied and His mercy was demonstrated.
  • Finally, it points out the way to be reconciled to the Father and adopted into His family. Only by faith in Jesus Christ can we be saved (John 14:6).

Sadly, many have forgotten about God’s requirement of holiness (v. 15).

Instead of keeping to His standards of attitude and behavior, they tend to embrace some worldly values that seem more comfortable or self-satisfying. Then, secular goals like pleasure and material wealth tend to replace godly ones like obedience and servanthood.

Such worldly goals are encouraged by our culture, which has little fear of God and typically ignores His warnings and commands.

To counteract the culture’s influence, keep the meaning of the cross before you.

Then you’ll be motivated to pursue holiness in honor of the One who gave His life to save you.

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Each Day We Have a Choice…

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Acts 5:27-32 (KJV)

27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them,
28 Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.
29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.
31 Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.
32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.

The high priest ordered Peter and the apostles to stop teaching about Jesus, but they ignored the order.

When questioned about their actions, Peter replied, “We must obey God rather than men” (v. 29). What motivated them to follow the Lord with such conviction?

God’s Sovereignty. 

Peter and the other disciples recognized that God had carried out His divine plan of redemption in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Convinced that salvation was found in Christ alone, they had the courage to speak boldly about their faith. They didn’t alter their words, even in front of a powerful authority. Instead, they gave allegiance to God and obeyed Him.

Thankfulness. 

Their obedience was also motivated by gratitude. After betraying the Lord, Peter had wept over his failure (Mark 14:72). Think of the disciple’s joy to realize that Christ had forgiven him for his mistakes and restored him to a right relationship with God (Mark 16:7; John 21:15-17). With his past behind him, Peter became a leader of the Jerusalem church, with a passion to obey fueled by a thankful heart.

God is in charge of our lives.

He has rescued us from the bondage of sin, forgiven us, and brought us into His family. Grateful obedience should be our response too.

Each day we have a choice.

We can acknowledge God’s sovereignty and trust Him, or we can turn away and follow our own plan.

Cultivating a thankful spirit will motivate us to stay the course and obey the Lord. Like Peter, let’s commit to following our heavenly Father wherever He leads.

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Devoted to Prayer…

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Colossians 4:2-4 (KJV)

2 Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;
3 Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:
4 That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.

The Savior was devoted to prayer.

He met with God in the early morning, sought Him in the midst of busy days, and slipped away for nighttime fellowship with Him. His actions testify to the central place prayer is to have in the lives of believers.

Prayer seemed to come naturally to Jesus, but most of us have to work at maintaining regular communion with God.

We find ourselves easily distracted by the details of life, our own desires, and the demands of people. The road to a deepening prayer life begins with the firm commitment to develop a habit of talking with God and to make it a high priority in our day. We follow through by setting aside a daily time with the Lord and by identifying a location that minimizes interruptions. Sacrifice will be necessary to make this happen—we might have to accept less sleep, give up a favorite activity, or use our lunch hour for prayer. And parents might have to ask friends for help with the kids in order to have alone time with God.

In addition, our prayer life must be undergirded by Scripture, which teaches us about God’s character, promises, and priorities.

The Bible turns our thoughts from worldly cares and pleasures to a focus on the Lord. Reading it daily will remind us that He is supremely important to our life and our desire should be to please Him. Then, we’ll be ready to make requests according to His will—and to hear what He has to say.

Evaluate the current state of your prayer life, and commit to improving at least one area described above.

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His Knowledge of Each Heart…

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 Psalm 118:1-4 (KJV)

1 O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever.
2 Let Israel now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
3 Let the house of Aaron now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
4 Let them now that fear the Lord say, that his mercy endureth for ever.

The world is corrupt, but God is good, and non-Christians often experience His kindness (though they may attribute it to luck or hard work).

Yet we who follow Christ sometimes feel unbelievers don’t deserve benefits of prosperity or good health, particularly if we’ve been faithful but find ourselves struggling.

However, no matter how great our service to God, we’re no more deserving than anyone else.

Our omniscient God takes many things into consideration when deciding what is truly good for an individual and how best to bless that person. He bases His determination on His knowledge of each heart. For instance, a $10 tithe may not seem like a huge amount to a young person, even though he earns just $100 a week. A few years later the same person, now successful and wealthy, may decide he can’t afford to give $1000, even though that figure represents the same percentage of his paycheck.

At times the Lord refrain from pouring out blessing because He knows that too much of a good thing can have a negative effect.

Or He may be selective about what He bestows so we won’t be tempted to worship the gift instead of the Giver.

In fact, unless we’re wise stewards, the Lord may withdraw certain benefits. To be fully blessed, we must heed what the psalmists teach: God unleashes blessing on those who walk uprightly, take refuge in Him, and obey (Ps. 84:11; 34:8-9).

Every good thing comes from the Lord (James 1:17), and we must seek Him to better understand His plans. Our part is to walk according to His will and follow His ways.

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You Can Stand Blameless…

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Romans 8:1-4(KJV)

1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

 Some believers are plagued by feelings of condemnation.

Either they think they’ll never live up to God’s expectations for them or they’re nearly drowning in guilt over past sins. These men and women cannot seem to shake the sense that God is displeased with their puny efforts at being Christlike.

The book of Romans confronts this lie head-on:

 “There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1).

When the Savior went to the cross on our behalf, He lifted the blame from our shoulders and made us righteous before God.

Those feelings of condemnation do not belong to us; they are from Satan. He amplifies our guilt and feelings of inadequacy and then suggests that’s how the Lord feels about His “wayward child.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

 Our sins are wiped clean, and we are chosen and loved by God.

Condemnation is reserved for those who reject the Lord (John3:36).

Sin is a death sentence (Rom. 6:23). Anyone who chooses to cling to sin instead of seeking divine forgiveness must pay the penalty, which is an eternity separated from God. Two synonyms of condemn are ‘denounce’ and ‘revile.’ Those words certainly describe Jesus’ statement to unbelievers in Matthew 25:41: “Depart from me, accursed ones.”

 There is no condemnation for those who receive Jesus Christ as their Savior.

The believer’s penalty for sin is paid, and he can stand blameless before God. Trust in the Lord’s love and let go of Satan’s lie.

 God’s beloved children are covered by His grace and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

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Our Prince of Peace…

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Isaiah 9:6 (KJV)

6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

There are plans to make, gifts to buy, and parties to attend. Sometimes these activities leave us exhausted and cranky—instead of peace and joy, we may feel inner churning because there’s too much to do. Or perhaps this time of the year brings nothing but sad memories and loneliness. Unrealistic expectations and conflicts with loved ones often leave us depressed and discouraged.

How can Jesus be our Prince of Peace when our expectations and traditions fight against the tranquility we desire?

The Christmas rush is here.

There are plans to make, gifts to buy, and parties to attend. Sometimes these activities leave us exhausted and cranky—instead of peace and joy, we may feel inner churning because there’s too much to do. Or perhaps this time of the year brings nothing but sad memories and loneliness. Unrealistic expectations and conflicts with loved ones often leave us depressed and discouraged.

How can Jesus be our Prince of Peace when our expectations and traditions fight against the tranquility we desire?

To understand why Jesus was given this title, we must first understand what it means. First of all, God’s Son did not come to do away with all conflicts—not yet, anyway. One day He will return to earth and rule as King in an environment of external harmony, but that was not the purpose of His first coming. So while we’re on earth, we’ll have trouble (John 16:33).

When Christ left heaven to become a human baby, His goal was to bring us peace with God by reconciling us to the Father.

His death on the cross paid our sin debt in full, and our relationship with God is restored. Now He offers us divine peace—an inner serenity that fills our hearts and minds no matter what is going on in our circumstances.

Is your life characterized by a quiet assurance that guards your heart and mind all day long (Phil. 4:6-7), or have stressful circumstances left you feeling depressed or agitated?

Try setting aside time each day to fix your eyes upon Jesus. Then let Him heal your heart and calm your spirit.

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The Reality of Our Situation…

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Psalm 9:7-10 (KJV)

7 But the Lord shall endure for ever: he hath prepared his throne for judgment.
8 And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness.
9 The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.
10 And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.

How much do you trust God?

Before you answer, think about these scenarios:

Do you really trust the Lord when everything seems out of control and He appears absent? When He has called you to move in a certain direction that seems illogical and risky? When painful circumstances continue, making you wonder if the Lord really cares?

We all have times of doubt when our expectations of God are dashed by the reality of our situation.

Many of us want to trust Him more but aren’t sure how.

David reveals that the key lies in knowing the Lord (v. 10).

Distance in our relationship with Him results in a lack of faith, but those who are intimately acquainted with Christ find it easier to trust Him wholeheartedly.

Whenever you are tempted to doubt, remember these essential truths about the Lord:

  • He is totally sovereign (Ps. 103:19).

God has everything in His control even when we can’t perceive it.

  • He is infinitely wise(Rom. 11:33-36).

God knows every side of the situation (inside and out) and every event (past, present, and future).

  • He is infinitely wise(Ex. 34:6).

Without exception, He always chooses what is best for us, even if it’s not easy.

We grow in faith, not by trying harder to believe but, rather, by pursuing the Lord. This involves doing all we can to get to know Him—in particular, spending time in His Word and talking with Him in prayer.

Then our trust in Him will grow as we learn that He never forsakes those who seek Him.

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