Some things one does for one’s own spiritual benefit, as is right and necessary. If by chance those things benefit others, as they often will, so much the better. Growth in the Spirit is not a lonely nor selfish proposition. Of course, one must take care that such benefit does not become the end-all and do-all of ministry. There is that service that is undertaken solely for the benefit and need of one’s neighbor. The overflow of my benefit to the other cannot be the main service provided for another. The additional blessing to others that comes from one’s own efforts toward growth can never substitute the teaching, evangelism, edification, and benevolence given to others. But when the additional blessing occurs, blessing indeed it can be.
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By William Woodson — The statement made in the title is not only the desire of many in the religious world, but it is becoming the philosophy of many Christians, because many of us are seeking a religion that “meets my needs.” The phrase itself has virtually become a new religious term. Many persons praise or blame a particular congregation because it is or is not “meeting my needs.”
Let me hasten to say that if the phrase means that we need to satisfy spiritual hunger, then it is a good expression, for surely everyone ought to be in a Christian community where his/her deepest spiritual longings are being addressed. (More …)
“Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.” (Acts 17:25)
How could the Lord, from whom all blessings flow, ever owe us anything? Obviously he doesn’t – not to any one individual or nation! The Lord’s will is the Lord’s will; the question is, “Are we willing to get on board with it?” Just think Romans 11:34-35 (which happens to repeat a principle that had already been taught to God’s people in the past) and the point will be made clear.
With that point in mind it should be remembered that the things we do in our service to God and his kingdom are not meant to be done as though he couldn’t do it without us. They are meant to be done in a way that causes us to be grateful to God for accomplishing his will through us (Philippians 2:1-11).
Whatever aspect of worship you can think of applies to this situation as well. What can we give that he doesn’t already own? (Psalm 50:10) The Almighty isn’t jealous of us! Jealous for us? Yes. (Exodus 34:14, Deuteronomy 32:16) Jealous concerning his name? Most definitely! (Deuteronomy 29:20) But not one time has the Lord ever been, nor will He ever be, jealous of us. He doesn’t require worship because he wants what we have – it’s because he wants us!
Service, worship, humility, appreciation, a holy fear and good spiritual growth comes through a recognition of who is in need of whom in the relationship between the created and the Creator. This is the thought that is meant to be bound between our eyes and upon our heart; a thought that leads to a seal which identifies us as first belonging to the Lord and then to the Lord belonging to us. (2 Corinthians 6:14-18, Hebrews 8:10)
“So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.” (Luke 17:10)
The Lord Jesus Christ taught multitudes, discipled small groups, talked one-on-one. He also took time away from people to be with his Father.
His followers do likewise. They find time alone with their God. They shine their light in the midst of a dark world. They make it a priority to meet with their family in Christ. (More …)
In Romans 12 the Holy Spirit, writing by the hands of Paul, addressed the spirit of the saint in a tough world. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). The approach of each saint is to present oneself to the Lord in all that we do; the NKJV calls this one’s “reasonable service,” while the ASV says it is one’s “spiritual service,” and the ESV a “living sacrifice.” Whatever term is used the point is clear: one is to serve God, and this is the saint’s ethical basis. So, “let love be without hypocrisy” (12:9). This means that we are to love as the Lord loves us. This is easy to understand, but difficult to apply. The reason it is difficult is because we might be moody, the other person might be less than lovable, we might not know the meaning of the word love, or we just don’t want to do so. Whatever difficult reason in front of us, it is our obligation to move it out of the way and to do as the Lord did and does. RT
Someone has said, “What is needed in the church is more towels and fewer titles.” When Jesus’ disciples were arguing over who was greatest, he told them they needed to become the Towel Brigade. Jesus took a basin of water and a towel and washed their feet and wiped them dry. But the lesson was not in dirty feet, but in pride-filled hearts. No spirit is further from Christ’s spirit than the haughty spirit. Yet I’ve seen some folks so proud, they could strut sitting down! In the parable of the good Samaritan the priest and Levite passed by on the far side. They represented the religious people. Someone said the reason the religious folks passed by on the far side was they saw he’d already been robbed. There was nothing left to take. Too many want titles, not towels. I once heard a preacher correct a member, “Don’t call me brother, call me Dr. So and So.” Well, the truth is there are no doctors or reverends or fathers or most holies in the Lord’s church. All are servants or they are not Christ’s. This is Just-a-Minute
One evening, as I was leaving our seasonal Winter Shelter, one of the guests asked me of my perspective on religion as compared to certain practices he had observed. Part of my response to him was that religion — as it is expressed in the Scriptures — is not merely ritual, but is practical. It relates to accepting God’s authority for life, good living and helping to meet the needs of others. The questioner then responded, “You are doing that.”
Someone has said, “A person’s most useful asset is not a head full of knowledge, but a heart full of love, an ear ready to listen and a hand willing to help others.” [original source unknown]
The fact that living a life pleasing to God is more than ritualistic observance is made clear through various passages of Scripture. For example, in response to a questioner seeking to justify himself (Luke 10:29), Jesus told the parable of the good Samaritan. (Luke 10:30-35) The priest and the Levite appear to have been too focused on their ceremonial cleanness to help one who had A REAL NEED. To press the point we read. . .
“(36) Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” (37) He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “YOU GO, AND DO LIKEWISE.”” (Luke 10:36-37 ESV)
On another occasion, when Jesus’ disciples were accused of plucking heads of grain while walking through a grainfield on the Sabbath, Jesus reminded the
faultfinders of David and his men having eaten the bread that was only lawful for the priests to eat. That bread was there was to MEET THE NEED at the time. (Mark 2:23-26) By the time of Jesus’ walk on earth, the “doctrines” of work on the Sabbath had been meticulously defined by the teachers of the law. However, in addressing the practicality, Jesus went on to state. . .
“(27) And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”” (Mark 2:27 ESV)
There are a number of other places Jesus addressed what was done on the Sabbath when He Himself was accused of healing on the Sabbath. In those cases Jesus drew attention to what His accusers were willing to do when it came to their own personal property (i.e. Matthew 12:11-12), exposing more interest in themselves than in being willing to reach out to meet the REAL NEEDS around them.
Perhaps one of the most concise and clearest statements comes from James where we read. . .
“(27) RELIGION THAT IS PURE AND UNDEFILED BEFORE GOD, THE FATHER, IS THIS: TO VISIT ORPHANS AND WIDOWS IN THEIR AFFLICTION, AND TO KEEP ONESELF UNSTAINED FROM THE WORLD.” (James 1:27 ESV)
Living a “religious” life before God and man is both practical and holy. Purity of life is an issue to be taken very seriously. However, our interaction with others and willingness to MEET REAL NEEDS is also of extreme importance. Are we not glad we have a Heavenly Father aware of and willing to provide for both our spiritual and physical needs? May we be mindful of that with regard to others as we live through each day God provides.
Have a great day PUTTING THE ASSETS OF HEART, EAR, AND HAND TO WORK TO THE GLORY OF GOD! – Carl Hanson
(“teEn-MAIL” is sent out daily by Carl Hanson, preacher for the Church of Christ in Port Townsend, Washington, USA, located at 230 A Street, Port Townsend, WA 98368. Come visit us if in the area. http://www.porttownsendchurchofchrist.org)
Here’s a neat story called “A Growing Church” that was passed along to me in an email. The email originated with a brother named Dave Hart, but the illustration itself was marked as “Author Unknown” so I don’t have any other “credit” to pass along for it. Also, the word “bus fare” may be a little “dated” or “out-of-place” depending upon where you live but it can be updated or changed easily to make this a very applicable illustration for any congregation today when it comes to church growth and the importance of serving our brothers and sisters in the church:
An elder called on a member of the church for a social visit. The conversation turned to the work of the church. They talked of the progress that had been made and how the Lord had blessed their efforts through the past years. Yet both agreed that other things were needed.
“It seems to me,” said the member, “That the church is always needing something. Every time we meet, there is a plea for more giving and more workers.”
“You are right, my brother,” replied the elder. “The church is always needing something. I had a little boy who needed something. One week it was shoes, another clothes, then lunch money, bus fare, spending money. I thought he asked too much. He hasn’t asked for anything for years now. He quit needing anything from me. You see, he died one night. And there are times when I would give anything to hear him ask for something just once more. I realized after it was too late, how much happiness I found, even in his begging. Perhaps you have never missed the church. It has always been there when you needed it, and you have taken it for granted. Frankly I confess I did not know how little I did for my son until it was too late.
So it is with the church. As long as the church stands, it will have needs. When it quits needing something, it will be dead. A dead church cannot offer a living hope to a dying world. The church that has no needs fills none.”
Our slogan this month is “keep on keeping on.” It is an expression about diligent action. But there is so much in which we can be diligent. What, exactly, are the things in which we are to keep on keeping on?
One of those things can be understood in the actions of Jesus. Acts 10:38 records that Jesus spent His lifetime going about doing good. Jesus, on the occasion of the last Passover meal of His life, taught the disciples that they were to spend their life in service to others (John 13:1-15). It is no wonder then that we find that our reward or punishment pronounced at the judgment will, in part (there are many parts), be based upon our lifetime service to those in difficult situations (Matt. 25:31-46). Some of the types of folks to which we must minister are the hungry, the thirsty, the stranded stranger, the sick, the naked, and those in prison.
You will notice two or three particular points about those in the above mentioned situations.
- First, such people are always with us. All of our lifetime, we will hear or know of people in these difficult situations. We will never run out of the opportunity to serve others.
- Second, to give even a brief relief or comfort to any of these folks will require us to go the extra mile. None of this can be done from our pews or armchairs. That means, that for a lifetime, Jesus wants us to plan enough spare time in our days and weeks that we can use it fruitfully in helping folks such as these.
Friends, can it be the case that we should not fill our lives with so much that we enjoy and want? Should we, like Job, search out the people around us to whom we can become servants? Would it be better to fill our children’s lives with examples and opportunities for service rather than quite so much recreation, team sports, boys and girls organizations or too much play time?
Two passages that continually come to my mind as I think about diligence are 1 Cor. 15:58 and Gal. 6:9-10. We are:
- To be steadfast
- To always abound
- In the work of the Lord
- To not become weary
- In doing good (as our Lord did)
- To do good to all men
So, let’s keep on keeping on.
It’s hard to get some people to realize this fact. Some people look down on others, and others have a hard time looking up.
Truth be told it’s easy to show how every member matters – just try stubbing your little and insignificant pinky toe and see what the rest of your body thinks about it!
Believe it or not, the body is affected by every member and every member has an effect on the body. Your influence matters! Our potential is powerful! To be a body we must think of others, and we must not think too highly of ourselves.
Bible class teachers, greeters at the services, card-senders, evangelists, deacons, elders, the one who cleans up after a meal, the one who invites friends and family to worship, the one who smiles on his or her way into the building, those who support widows and orphans, those who listen for an opportunity to serve, those who give others an opportunity to serve, those who do the things that glorify God and no one finds out about it, those whose public works bring glory to God, those who write, those who read and pass it along, those who serve as missionaries, those who support the missionaries and much more – we all matter!
But where the rubber meets the road isn’t whether or not every member matters to God, it’s whether or not this matters to us.
“If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be?…Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.” (1 Corinthians 12:15-19, 27)
Tiger Woods may be the greatest natural golfer to ever play. Michael Jordan might be the greatest all around basketball player ever born. Human beings love to use superlatives. Things are great or they are awesome. There is “a great day coming,” yet I had a great day today. The two are not comparable, are they? We men like to compare things: cars, jobs, illnesses, appearances, etc. Our Lord does not use superlatives often. When He uses one, it is important to examine what he is saying.
In Luke 22:24-30, Jesus uses both the words, great and greatest. He used them in regard to the comparison by which men compare themselves to others. The disciples were arguing over who should be the ‘greatest’ in the kingdom. Jesus sets the criteria for making a judgment about greatness. The person who is great in the kingdom is the person who serves. Among humans, it is usually those with the most “clout” or power. But for God, therefore for us, let’s remember that it is service. Remember that our works follow us. Our works are our service.
Jesus came as a servant. We must never forget that if we are to “be like Him” we must serve. We must give our time to others, not expect them to give to us. We must expend our energy. We must do whatever lowly task is to be done. We must never tire of serving others. We must never give up being obedient. We must never lose compassion that moves us to help. We must never put ourselves first. Our God has been serving us since before creation as he works tirelessly, sacrificially and unendingly while there is time to save every human soul. As the recipients of His salvation and members of family of mankind, we must serve.
Make me a servant Lord, make me like you.
Oswald Chambers once said: “If we are devoted to the cause of humanity, we shall soon be crushed and broken hearted for we often shall meet more ingratitude from men than we would from a dog; but if our motive is love for God, no ingratitude can hinder us from serving our fellow men.”
Service is the rent you pay for the space you occupy in the kingdom of God.
Romans 8:35-39 – Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long;We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
“Thoughts For Today to Brighten Your Day” by Glenn, Mercedes and Lauren Hitchcock
“Then, after washing their feet and putting on his robe again, he took his seat and said to them, Do you see what I have done to you? You give me the name of Master and Lord: and you are right; that is what I am. If then I, the Lord and the Master, have made your feet clean, it is right for you to make one another’s feet clean. I have given you an example, so that you may do what I have done to you. Truly I say to you, A servant is not greater than his lord; and he who is sent is not greater than the one who sent him. If these things are clear to you, happy are you if you do them.” (John 13:12-17, BBE)
This section of scripture never ceases to amaze me, or at times rebuke me!
It reconstructs the average idea of what service really is. It reconstructs the average idea of what happiness really is. It reconstructs the average idea of who I am really supposed to be…if I have eyes to see, and ears to hear.
The lesson has much more to do with helping each other remove the grit and grim from our lives through service than it does with removing the junk between our toes. We are quick to say that we understand this! Do we really? Do we perceive it the way Jesus wanted his apostles to perceive it?
I must ask myself the question, “Who’s feet am I going to wash today?” Are you willing to ask yourself the same? If not, why not?
Why are we afraid to get our hands dirty like Jesus did? Share your thoughts if you like.
There’s an old story about a farmer who one morning decided to plow the south forty acres. His tractor needed oil, so he started for the barn to get it, but on the way noticed that the pigs hadn’t been fed. Near the corn crib was a pile of sacks, reminding him that the potatoes were sprouting. But, on his way to the potato pit, he passed the woodpile and remembered that the kitchen stove was burning low. While picking up the wood, he saw that one of his chickens was ailing, so he dropped the wood to doctor the chicken…and so it was till the end of the day, and he still hadn’t oiled the tractor or plowed the south field.
Is your Christian life like this trip to the barn? Do you have grand visions of great service that never gets done? Have you found too many “other things” to do that interfere with your goal of being a productive servant in God’s kingdom?
The only way you and I will “get to the barn” of Christian service is to get our priorities in order. The farmer in the story didn’t have any priorities. He just flowed with the tide of events around him. Our life contains plenty of “pigs to feed,” “wood to cut,” and “chickens to doctor.” But, we can’t allow them to get in our way of serving God. If we will make the commitment and extend our effort, God will make a way for us to “get to the barn.” —George Miller
“Thy servant went out into the midst of the battle; and, behold, a man turned aside, and brought a man unto me, and said, Keep this man: if by any means he be missing, then shall thy life be for his life, or else thou shalt pay a talent of silver. And as thy servant was busy here and there, he was gone.” (1 Kgs. 20:39-40a)