Humble Servanthood

     Today, we are reading Acts 28 together.  In this chapter, the final one in the book of Acts, we continue to travel with Paul and his close friend Luke.  Luke, Paul and the rest of their group have recently been shipwrecked after a terrible storm; in fact, they have not eaten in 14 days and were forced to swim to the nearest island  (see Acts 27:14; Acts 27:33; Acts 27:43).  They learned that the island was called Malta, and they remained there for three months.  Fortunately, the native Maltans welcomed Paul and his group wholeheartedly.  From Malta, the group traveled to Rome and here Paul’s circumstances changed dramatically.  In verse 16, Luke writes, “When we actually entered Rome, they let Paul live in his own private quarters with a soldier who had been assigned to guard him.”  (Acts 28:16)   In fact, Paul was now under house arrest, and he knew that his years of ministry would soon come to a close.

Despite his imprisonment and impending death, Paul somehow managed to remain humble.  It is this character trait, humility, that I would like us to focus on today.  We see evidence of Paul’s humility right after he arrives in Malta.  Despite having just survived a terrifying shipwreck – he is most likely exhausted and starving – Paul doesn’t hesitate to help his hosts when it begins to rain:

     “It had begun to rain and was cold…Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and put them on the fire…:” (Acts 28:3). 

Paul’s humility is evident here in his service to others despite his own physical weakness.

When Paul arrives in Rome and begins his season of house arrest, he remains humble here as well.  We read that Paul constantly places others before himself:

“From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus…” (Acts 28:23)

Paul could easily have chosen an attitude of bitterness regarding the loss of his personal freedom, but he did not.  Instead, he chose to spend his days – from morning to evening – telling others about Christ, so that they too might be saved.

It takes humility to serve others who are treating you as an honored guest, and it takes humility to serve others when you are imprisoned with a guard watching over your every move. From guest of honor to prisoner, Paul remained humble and served those around him.  In doing this, he taught people about Jesus.  Although few of us will experience either shipwreck or imprisonment in our lives, we can all try to set aside our current circumstances, whatever they are, and serve others in humility.  In doing this, our actions reveal Christ and his love for the world.  How can you, today,  humbly serve those around you?

Christ Humbled Himself

Malachi chapter 1 speaks directly to people making sacrifices to the LORD that He finds unacceptable.

6 A son honors his father, and a slave his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the Lord Almighty. “It is you priests who show contempt for my name. “But you ask, ‘How have we shown contempt for your name?’ 7 “By offering defiled food on my altar. “But you ask, ‘How have we defiled you?’ “By saying that the Lord’s table is contemptible. 8 When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the Lord Almighty. – Malachi 1:6-8

As this Christmas season passes us by we look to Christ’s example for acceptable sacrifices. Christ humbled Himself supremely. That is, being the highest, He made Himself the lowest (Ephesians 5:2, Hebrews 2:9). Though we do not need to descend as Christ did, we too are called to make ourselves low, to humble ourselves (Luke 9:24).

Humility is linked to sacrafice. After all, if one believed they were above all, would not sacrifices be due them instead of the other way around? The lower we make ourselves the more opportunity we have to realize and make true sacrifices that are pleasing to the LORD.

Sacrifice is linked to service. That is, sacrifice to God is linked to the service of others (Matthew 25:40) and to serve others, placing ourselves beneath them is required (Mark 10:43-45, Matthew 18:4).

Today’s reading: 2 Chronicles 33; Revelation 19; Malachi 1; John 18
Challenge: look for an opportunity to go last today. Make yourself low and let your light shine (Isaiah 58:7-8).
Further Study:As Christians we rely wholly on God’s promises. Read Isaiah 58 to learn how God calls us to humble ourselves and what He promises us when we do.

The Bible: God’s Love Story

I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. -Galatians 1:11-12

Does God love us enough to choose to communicate? I used to wonder about this, I no longer do.

Was the Bible written by man? In a sense, I suppose it was. But does it also have Divine origins? More fundamentally; is there a God who created us, who intervenes at times, having actually stepped into our world as one of us?

After a lifetime of contemplation and prayer, I can only conclude YES!

Christianity is often maligned for being exclusive and arrogant. But if in fact God exists, and has chosen a certain path of revelation, then doesn’t it follow that any information that brings that story into light is worth exploring?

The Bible offers this opportunity by sharing the amazing story of our reconciliation with God. Not for the pious and the self-righteous, but for those of us who are at times broken, struggling to understand morality and hungry for truth. I have found the Bible to be more than a codex for life. It is a powerful love story about rebellion, redemption and salvation. This is a story we all need to understand.

Man is man and God is God — holy and separate from us. Yet it is by His grace that we are redeemed. We are not called to seek adoration or please people, but to love others. Doing this isn’t easy in our limited power. But in our surrender and contrition we receive God’s power to love; not in our strength but in our weakness.

We are made to be the instruments of God — instruments of love.

In the Bible, Jesus instructs us to have genuine concern for ALL PEOPLE. Not in arrogance or judgement, but in humility, service and sacrifice. When I live with an attitude of grace and gratitude I demonstrate a spirit of peace, kindness, and warmth towards others. And this power comes from God.

It’s not surprising that only God demonstrates constant, pure and perfect love. As Christ, God provided the perfect and ultimate example. He calls out through time, to all humanity, inviting us to follow.

I would rather be a Christ Follower than anything else. In the Bible Jesus teaches us by His life, death, burial and resurrection; and that it is possible to be in harmony with God. It is also possible to love other people unconditionally. When I am able to do this I am able to truly love myself. Then my possibilities are aligned with my purpose. Only then am I able to achieve my fullest potential and to bare the fruit of the spirit.

Thank you God for loving me, so that I, in turn, am able to genuinely love you and others. May others see your love in me. Amen.

By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. -Matthew 7:16-18

Today’s reading link: 2 Samuel 21; Galatians 1; Ezekiel 28; Psalm 77

Law of Love

Today’s Date: 8/23/2016

The Beatles were onto something when they sang the song All You Need Is Love . But Paul says it best in Romans 13:8-14

Today’s Reading: 1 Samuel 15; Romans 13; Jeremiah 52; Psalm 31

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8

Being asked to Love others is the only way we even come close to showing God our appreciation for sending His own son to die for us. Let’s refer back to John 3:16 where we find out exactly how much God loves us.  So as believers, we are asked to love one another.

How hard can it be? Honestly,.. hard, because naturally we attempt to make excuses as to why or what others do to not allow us to love them. We can gratify the desires of the flesh without understanding that the day could be on hand when our worldly bodies won’t be able to share this love.

God wants us to hold no debts except for the debt of Love to others.  So as we work diligently to cut out our own or our children’s financial debt never lose sight of the debt of Love that doesn’t impact any bank statement. Our only obligation here is to love our neighbors.

Loving others as ourselves is a deep love that covers everything to make sure all needs are met.  Helping and loving others means that your secure in yourself enough to make sure that you love your neighbors. James 2:8 says to love thy neighbor like thyself.

In order to show this love you need to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ“.  There are many references to putting on a new self. Ephesians 4:24 talks about a new self created in the likeness of God; In addition Colossians 3:14-17.  We can also show this in be baptized. Galatians 3:27. Second, we model the same qualities that Jesus had while on this Earth. (Love, Humility, Truth, Service) Here is where you could go with the acronym W.W.J.D. Ephesians 4:17-32

We must make sure we are getting dressed everyday – taking off sin and putting on the righteousness of Christ.  It is an everyday love that we need to put on new each day.  We need to keep God’s promise of a new self close to not allow  worldly things invite us to enter into jealousy, anger, mistrust, being negative against others for whatever previous mistakes you or they made.

The night is far gone; and the day is at hand.  So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Romans 13:12-13

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Dear Father, I am thankful that You are love. That You have woke us up from a sleep that only focused on ourselves. We rejoice that You demonstrated incredible love for us in the flesh through your son Jesus Christ. I pray that we share this great love with others. We are forever changed because of this love and I know that it extends to those around us because You have enabled us to love deeply. Today, I pray that You let Your love flow through us and touch those around us. May the love we give be a blessing and a light for Your kingdom. Amen

Love ~ Chris Tomlin

Lessons in Leadership

Ever since I was a young kid I would say that I want to live to be 100 years old. To this day I will say the same thing until I read Deuteronomy 33-34. I’ve change my mind,  I’d like to 120. Yesterday, in Jillian’s post The Not So Promised Land Jill talked about the life of Moses and the missing out of this promise land because of a prior choices.  At the top of Mount Nebo in Moab the Lord speaks to Moses one more time before he dies.

Deuteronomy 34:7 says that His eye was undimmed, and his vigor was unabated.

Moses was seeing clearly and his mind was still focused on the Lord. Moses then gives one final blessing to Israel. Instead of worrying about himself and the fact he was told he was about to die. He gives a final blessing to Israel. Moses was serving others, just like he had his whole life.  Today, I want to share a couple lessons on leadership we can learn from Moses.

Today’s Date: June 28, 2016

Today’s Reading: Deuteronomy 33–34; Psalm 119:145–176; Isaiah 60; Matthew 8

Moses life of leadership (excluding the run in he had with an Egyptian who was hurting a Hebrew, even in this event he saw something was wrong and he was trying to do something about it. ) models principles of how we can become better disciples of the Lord.

  • God is always speaking in our lives. The first thing that we need to always do is trust that God has a plan for your life.  From Moses’s birth in Exodus 2, God has his plan for Moses The life of Moses shows how He will take care of you. Moses kept this faith in adversity.
  • Moses cared for others.  The phrase, “people don’t care what you know, until they know how much you care” comes to mind.  He truly cared for others and their well being. It was more then a superficial level. Moses showed concern for his people while they were in Egypt and at the time of the exodus, but as well in his continued care for them during their wanderings in the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land.
  • Moses was a great listener.  We read about Moses listening to God and listening to the Israelites. He believed in the message of the Lord and shared this message so they could also be brothers and sisters in Christ.  (Deuteronomy 28:1-2)  Personally, I know I could do more whole body listening as I tell students at school. We listen with our ears, eyes, and mind.  I need to continue to empathize and affirm the things others say to me. This is especially true when people share their emotions and feelings in a situations where I do not share those same emotions and feelings. I need to make sure I am whole body listening to the people I’m around and actively adjusting what I say and do in light of what they feel.
  • Be humble in your leadership. Moses showed humility. Exodus 4:10 But Moses said to the Lord, Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Moses was always willing to listen to others and not do everything by his own accord. He would listen and give credit to others.
  • Moses didn’t change or compromise in the face of adversity. He stayed true to what the Lord asked him to do.  He was responsible in making sure that the job gets done. Throughout the life of Moses God was always in charge and always provided direction for what Moses did and how Moses led. Whether it was from when Moses was first called by God in Exodus 3:1-3  or Moses taking steps to ensure the people were obedient to God’s teaching in Deuteronomy 31:9. Moses never changed when staying faithful to God and His word.

A defining character trait of a leader is someone who is willing to take responsibility. Moses is willing to step up to the plate because the job needs to be done. He wasn’t perfect, he wasn’t experienced, and he stuttered when he spoke. But when he saw his people were in trouble, when he saw a job that needed to be done, he acted on it. He took responsibility, even at risk to his own life. Therefore the Almighty chose him to lead. We demonstrate our leadership traits to ourselves, our partners, our children, our friends, our colleagues, our community, and what is important to us by our actions.

Will you find ways to mirror some of the leadership traits from Moses in your life today?

At times we can feel inadequate in our ability to lead people and do God’s work. Personally, based on Moses’s life I need to have more belief and confidence in God. We need to have more confidence because if we allow God to be in charge of leading the way for me to follow, then He will do what He wants done.

What leadership qualities have you learned from the life of Moses?

Dear God, We pray for your presence in us and in our world. We pray you impact our hearts to lead our lives, families, and others in a manner that would fulfill Your will.  Thanks you for sharing examples of disciples of Christ like Moses. Help us to understand Your word so we can open doors for others and lead like Moses.  Thank you for your Love and Grace in order to help us  “Finish ” the journey.  Amen

Psalm 90 offers the Prayer of Moses, the man of God

 

 

 

Two Diseases

1200px-Biohazard.svgDeuteronomy 13–14; Psalms 99–101; Isaiah 41; Revelation 11

According to John Calvin, “every man labors under two diseases. In prosperity, he exalts himself extravagantly, and shakes off the restraint; of humility and moderation; but, in adversity, he either rages, or lies in a lifeless condition, and scarcely has the smallest  perception of the goodness of God.”[1]  I was thinking about this as I read Psalm 100 today.  Consider how each of these “diseases” cause us to interpret the Scripture differently.

Psalm 100 (ESV) In Prosperity In Adversity
1 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Declare your gratification and happiness for everyone to see. Grumble to all the world, as loud as you can!
2 Serve the Lord with gladness!   Come into his presence with singing! Be happy with what you have done. Sing away, life is good! Do your work, even in agony. Come into God’s presence with despondency
3 Know that the Lord, is God! Know that you have everything under control. Where is God?
It is he who made us, and we are his; We have evolved so wonderfully If he didn’t want us to be this way, he shouldn’t have made us this way!
and the sheep of his pasture We live in the land of plenty.  Go get yours! God doesn’t care!
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise! Look what you have done for yourself. Others should come to you for help! Go to God complaining and blaming him for all your problems.
Give thanks to him; bless his name! You should be thanked for all that you have done! Curse God for all of your troubles!
For the Lord is good; Man, you am good; The Lord is tired of us all!
His steadfast love endures forever for all the days of your life His wrath is upon us.
and his faithfulness to all generations Your kids and your kid’s kids will be set for life! we are on our own.

Father God, help us to see our attitudes as they really are and make us aware of the spiritual diseases in our hearts.  Heal our hearts, Lord, with your Word and your Truth.  Make them new.

[1]
Calvin, John (2011-11-15). Calvin’s Complete Bible Commentaries (With Active Table of Contents in Biblical Order) (Kindle Locations 173172-173175). . Kindle Edition.