To Attain Greatness, Serve!

To Attain Greatness, Serve!

Would you like to be called great someday?  The Bible tells us how to reach that goal!  But it would surprise most of us to know that the pathway to greatness is by serving others!

That’s not the way it should be among you. Instead, whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave.  (Mt 20:26-27 ISV)

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.  (Mk 10:45 NKJV)  Even our Savior, Jesus Christ, came to earth to serve mankind—not to sit on His throne as King!

But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves.  (Lk 22:26 ESV)

Those who humble themselves like this little child will be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  (Mt 18:4 CEB)

The Bible has this to say about one of God’s servants:  Moses was faithful in all God’s house, as a servant. (Heb 3:5)

The more that we serve and help other people, the higher that we rise in God’s estimation.  In Matthew 20:28, Jesus said that He, Himself, came to serve and to be a ransom for many.  What a beautiful example to all of us who follow Him and serve Him! 

Here’s a short list of some great people who became famous because of their service to others:  Mother Teresa (Missionaries of Charity); Clara Barton (American Red Cross); William Booth (Salvation Army); Bill Wilson (Alcoholics Anonymous); and Cecil Jackson-Cole (Oxfam).  There are many, many others that I don’t have space to name.

Those who strive to be servants gain respect, success, and acclaim.  They also are noticed and rewarded by our God and Savior, whose opinion of us is the most important of all.  God bless you!

God Calls Us to Love Our Christian Family, Pt. 2

God Calls Us to Love Our Christian Family, Pt. 2

This is part two on this topic of loving our Christian brothers and sisters.  This is a very important subject to the Lord.  He has included so much information in His Word for us about this very thing.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.  (1 Joh 4:11-12 NKJV)

As we demonstrate and live in a helpful, loving way toward our brothers and sisters in Christ, we are revealing to the world, and to anyone who cares to notice, that God abides in us.  It is His life in us that enables and empowers us to serve one another in love.

This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  (Joh 15:12)  Jesus modeled loving service in His life on earth.  He showed love to His followers and to all those who came to Him for help or for teaching.  The Lord Jesus is completely entitled to tell us to follow His example.

In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.  (1 Joh 3:10)  This says it quite baldly:  an unrighteous life and an unloving attitude to a brother is proof that we are NOT ‘of God.’  Wow!  The only alternative to being ‘of God’ is to be a child of the devil, and we absolutely do NOT WANT to be identified as that.

If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?  (1 Joh 4:20 NKJV)  How can we possibly say that we love God if we can’t show love and helpfulness to people with whom we can interact, communicate, and see!  God is being completely reasonable here.

Here are some hints on ways to show love to others:

  • Be kind
  • Be open-minded, friendly, and able to make the first move
  • Empathize
  • Be genuine
  • Expect nothing in return
  • Be a good listener
  • Allow others to make their own decisions
  • Love in small ways
  • Keep showing up, and
  • Look for ways that you can be of help to the individual or family.

We can do this because God has said that we are MORE THAN CONQUERORS!  (Rom 8:37)  Hallelujah!

Pleasing All Men in All Things

Pleasing All Men in All Things

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.  (Rom 15:1 NIV)

Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.  (1 Cor 10:32-33, emphasis added)

Don’t do anything for selfish purposes, but with humility think of others as better than yourselves. Instead of each person watching out for their own good, watch out for what is better for others.  (Phil 2:3-4 CEB)

We’re instructed by God’s Word to watch out for what is best for others and pleasing to others.  We’re also urged to avoid selfishness and encouraged to care for each other.  That’s a tall order, right?  The apostle Paul said that he pleased all men!  Wow, he is a righteous example to us all.

So why did Paul ‘please all men’?  He did it so that many people would be saved.  By his pleasing and caring behavior toward others, he won many, many people to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  All of those people accepted Jesus as their Savior and Lord.  Paul didn’t do it in order to be a man-pleaser but in order to win souls to the Kingdom of God. His motivation was pleasing in God’s sight.

For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.  (Gal 1:10)

. . . not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart . . .  (Eph 6:6)

Our assignment as followers and servants of Jesus Christ is to please God first, but also to demonstrate God’s love to all people.  That means doing top-notch work in our jobs (even those who are self-employed).  It also means finding ways to cooperate kindly with our earthly neighbors whether we have a house, condo, apartment, or a tent. 

We also, as servants of Jesus, represent Him in our families, with our friends and within our communities and churches.  As ambassadors for God’s Kingdom, we have the honor and privilege of being ‘the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.’  (2 Cor 2:15) May our conduct and our conversation be as a pleasant perfume to the lost and the hurting as well as to the Lord Jesus.  Praise the Lord!

Upright Living

Upright Living

We are strongly encouraged to live holy, upright lives in the Scriptures.  Here are several instances:

In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.  (Tit 2:7-8 NIV)

Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.  (1 Tim 4:12 NKJV)

. . . having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.  (1 Pet 3:16)

For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men—  (1 Pet 2:15)

Why is this so important to the Lord that He would repeat it many times throughout the Bible?  It’s because the Lord has designed us to be His light in this ever-darkening world.  His plan is that through our upright and holy lives, we may silence all who try to defame us and vilify us in public. 

Our Lord Jesus was our example.  He lived a holy, sinless life on this earth and went about teaching the people about God and the Kingdom.  Jesus also performed signs, wonders and miracles continually.  It is such good works as His that we should yearn to imitate. 

I encourage us all to follow our loving Savior’s example of a righteous life.  God bless you.

Make Every Effort to Do Good to All

Make Every Effort to Do Good to All

The Bible invites us to do good to everyone.

Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.  (1 Thes 5:15 NIV)

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.  (Gal 6:10)

Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord . . .  (Heb 12:14)

Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God.  (3 Joh 1:11)

As children of the most High God, we desire to live holy lives that obey the Word of God.  We serve a good God who is full of mercy, forgiveness, and love.  God has given every believer the blessing of the indwelling Holy Spirit, who leads us and teaches us. 

We should:

  • Strive to do whatever is good—for each other and everyone else;
  • Never pay back a wrong; never seek revenge;
  • As we have opportunity, do noble, virtuous, kind things for everyone—especially other believers;
  • Seek to be at peace with ALL; and
  • Pursue holiness always.

Jesus, our Good Shepherd, demonstrated “doing good” to all.  If we follow His example, and emulate our Prince of Peace, we will be blessed.

Imparted Power

Imparted Power

Most of us who follow Jesus Christ don’t realize how much power the Lord has imparted to us, His people.  The word imparted means transferred, taught, or revealed. 

When we read the Bible, we need to think deeply about each and every passage that we read.  We should ask the Holy Spirit to guide us, teach us, and to give us revelations into the Scriptures.

Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ . . .  (2 Cor 2:10 ESV) 

We have authority to forgive others on behalf of the kingdom of God!  Think about the significance of this, and don’t take it lightly. 

If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.  (Joh 20:23 ESV) 

Jesus has given us the example, along with our Heavenly Father, of forgiving mankind of all sin through the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus.  It is our responsibility to follow His good example and His teachings.  Let’s advance the kingdom of God by being just like Him by extending merciful, and generous forgiveness to others.

And I tell you this—whatever you bind on earth is bound in heaven, and whatever you free on earth will be freed in heaven.  (Mt 18:18 TL B) 

We have power to bind on earth: 

  • to truss up or tie up;
  • to hinder or inhibit people, demons, or calamitous events; and
  • to deter or prevent situations—as God directs.  

We have authority to set free on earth:

  • to liberate (unshackle) people from bondage;
  • to emancipate human beings from every shame;
  • to release all those imprisoned by sickness, fear, pain, and the consequences of sin; and
  • to unshackle hurting ones from unhealthy situations and relationships.

The Lord Jesus has said clearly that He has given His followers power and authority.  This is an important truth upon which to meditate, and ask God to give us insight and wisdom into it.

Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.  (Lk 10:19) 

Later, in the book of Luke, Jesus talks again about our being given power from heaven.

I am sending to you what my Father promised, so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high. (Lk 24:49 ISV) Recognize who you are and what you have been given.  Believers are children of the Kingdom, and we have been given the message of the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ.    It’s our job to bind or to set free the right things for the right reasons.  It’s time for us to listen to and obey the direction of the Holy Spirit.  Praise God!

One Flock and One Shepherd

One Flock and One Shepherd

All who serve and follow the Lord Jesus Christ are one flock, and we obey one Good Shepherd’s voice!

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  (Gal 3:28, emphasis added)

 . . . where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.  (Col 3:1, emphasis added)

And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.  (Joh 10:16, underlining added)

As we read and meditate upon these Bible passages, we can clearly understand that in God’s flock there is no room for prejudice, hatred, nationalism or sexism.  We are all one in Christ—united in, by and through Jesus Christ.  All believers follow Jesus Christ who is our example and our Good Shepherd.

Because we are all following one Savior and we are all listening to the only Good Shepherd’s voice, the Lord desires us to dwell in unity with one another.

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!  (Ps 133:1)

For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.  (1 Cor 12:12)

. . . endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  (Eph 4:3)

. . . till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ . . . (Eph 4:13)

The Lord also desires us to be in harmony with each other as well as to comfort and to edify one another!  Let us be always obedient to the voice of the Lord.

Be of the same mind toward one another.  (Rom 12:16a)

Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.  (1 Thes 5:11)

God bless you!

The Beatitudes

The Beatitudes

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.  Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.  Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.  Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.  10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  11 Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.  (Mt 5:3-12)

In this passage of verses from the Bible, Jesus describes the categories of people that He says enjoy special favor with God. 

These are desirable attributes and personality traits in God’s sight, so we would do well to consider them.

  • The poor in spirit,
  • Those who mourn,
  • The meek,
  • Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
  • The merciful,
  • The pure in heart,
  • The peacemakers,
  • Those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, and
  • Those who are reviled and persecuted for Jesus’ sake.

Jesus said that if any of us see ourselves in this list that we should rejoice and be extraordinarily happy because we will receive a huge reward in heaven.  People who are described by this list are those who truly follow Jesus Christ, honor Him and respect Him as their example of faith and holiness. 

As we see Christianity more and more under attack around the world, we do well to nurture and build up our faith while we still have the time and opportunity to do so.  Draw near to the Lord with all of your heart and soul, mind and strength, in Jesus’ name.

The Right Way

The Right Way

Good and upright is the Lord; therefore He teaches sinners in the way.  (Ps 25:8)

I have taught you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in right paths.  (Pro 4:11, emphasis added)

Thus says the Lord:  “Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls.  But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’  (Jer 6:16, emphasis added)

They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness . . .  (2 Pet 2:15, emphasis added)

From the Scriptures shown above, we can clearly understand that God has given His people the “right path” and a “good way” in which we should walk.  He gives us direction and guidance through His Word, and our Lord Jesus served as our highest example.  (See Isa 30:21; 58:11; 1 Pet 2:21-22)

The Word points out to us that the right way is a narrow and challenging one.

Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.  (Mt 7:14)

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.”  (Joh 10:1)

The gate is called narrow and challenging because the gate into the right path is through Jesus Christ, alone.  He is the only “door” into the sheepfold.  Let us look at what more Jesus said about this:

Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.  (Joh 10:7)

I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.  (Joh 10:9)

Even in this day and age, there are those who don’t want to hear the name of Jesus.  There are many who speak against Christianity and Christians.  The Good News of the gospel of salvation is unwelcome in many places, therefore following the Lord isn’t always popular.  If you’re known as a Christian, it may bring about harassment, mistreatment, or discrimination against you. 

Nevertheless, as long as we stay on the right path, God promises to bring us safely to His eternal kingdom.  (2 Tim 4:18)  And He will bless and prosper us along the way.

When Did We See You, Lord?

When Did We See You, Lord?

. . . for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’  37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’  (Mt 25:35-40)

Jesus is making a point in these teachings.  He wanted His followers to realize that mercies shown to His people are considered by God to be the same as if they were shown to Jesus, Himself. 

In the Lord’s view, by showing kindness to the poor, the sick, and the needy, we demonstrate that we possess the spirit of Christ.  Jesus also showed His kindness to the poor, sick, and needy.  He gave us a perfect example.

For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.  (Mk 9:41)

We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death.  (1 Joh 3:14)

But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?  (1 Joh 3:17)

We need to have eyes to see the world and all people in the same way that the Lord sees them.  The Lord sees a field that is rich and ready to be harvested. 

The Lord sees people in deep need of the salvation that He has already provided, and He wants us to introduce this Good News to the spheres of influence in which we individually reside.  As we feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the needy, provide homes to the lost, and visit the sick and the prisoners, we’re doing it all as unto God, our Savior. 

As we serve and treasure other people, in the same way that Jesus did while He was on earth, our Father God lays up our heavenly rewards for us. Glory to God!