Why We Serve

Until this year I’ve spent my entire adult life on church staffs. A struggle faced in every church I’ve been on is motivating people to serve. I’ve witnessed the frustration of children’s directors who receive ten no’s in a row for Sunday School positions, and I’ve jumped into action as a Sunday School teacher, nursery volunteer, usher, greeter, cook, and parking attendant when someone failed to show. I can’t even imagine what percent of leadership meetings I’ve been in dealing with the struggle to find volunteers. I grew VERY frustrated with people who always seemed to say no to service opportunities. Yet, now that I’m not on a church staff, I see where people are coming from when they turn down opportunities. When I’m now asked to give up MY time to church I am filled with all sorts of excuses: I need family time, I need free time, my job is stressful enough, I don’t want to get involved in “church politics,” and so on.

This has led me to really reflect on why it is we serve, which is something I feel we all need to think about. This is not to say we always have to say yes (indeed, sometimes no is the correct answer), but it is to say we need to understand why we serve and when and why we do need to say YES. Here is what Paul says to Titus about why he has chosen to serve:

Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his Word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior. Titus 1:1-3

Let’s look at three practical things Paul tells us here about why we are to serve:

To make Others Better: First, Paul says that he is a servant for the sake of God’s people (the elect). Paul understood that God desires all of us to be making other people better. Then can range from teaching and mentoring them to simply offer them prayer and encouragement. Are you regularly serving by making others better, or do you need to search out new opportunities?

To spread the Good News: Paul talks about sharing the hope of eternal life. Do you ever reflect on what you are doing in your life so help spread the Good News? ALL of us have a role to play in sharing the hope of eternal life. The key is to figure out what are role is and to say YES to it.

Because we’ve been entrusted and commanded: Not only has God commanded us to serve, but he has entrusted us with both the ability to serve and His faith in our ability. If God has entrusted and commanded us to serve Him, who are we to say no?

Creating a Blueprint for Your Life

Deuteronomy 4:1 New International Version (NIV)

Obedience Commanded

Now, Israel, hear the decrees and laws I am about to teach you. Follow them so that you may live and may go in and take possession of the land the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you.

Moses was giving the Israelite people a blue print for their life and how to take possession of the land that God was giving to them. I first have to ask how did you create a blueprint for your life?

This is a critical question. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal a plan for your life. This is essential. Today, I would like to give you two nuggets that will help you on your trajectory of life in taking the land God has promised you.

Nugget #1: Do You Hear God’s Decrees?

God has a decree of redemption for all mankind. God did this by having His Son go to the cross in which he shed his blood for your forgiveness of sins.

Nugget #2: Do You Hear God’s Laws?

These laws are God’s teaching in both the Old and New Testaments. Are you hearing it? 

Men, when we realize that God has decrees for our lives, and they are within the Bible, we have the blueprint for our lives. Through God, His Son, and the Holy Spirit, we can and will possess the land God has given each one of us. We each have a blueprint for our lives. Let’s possess it and take the land.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

Vital Ministries News

Men, I strongly encourage you to look at the fellowshipofthesword.com for upcoming Quests for men. We have partial scholarships for any man who wants to attend. This event will help you uncover, unlock, and unleash your heart.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

“Cheap Grace”

Romans 6:1-3…6-7 (NASB) What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? …knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.  

“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran Pastor during World War II.  He was a man very much opposed to Hitler and the Third Reich.  He fled Germany at first, but chose to return.  He felt that he could not, in good conscience, be a part of the rebuilding of his country after the war, if he wasn’t willing to suffer along side his countrymen.  He returned to Germany, worked in heavy resistance to the Reich.  He provided comfort, peace and provision to the men and women who so desperately needed it.  His subversion to Hitler was covert, when necessary, and overt when possible.  Because of his work, the threat he presented to the Reich’s power by fear, he was imprisoned, tortured, relocated repeatedly and tortured some more.  This man, armed with conscious faith was as powerful a weapon as any the allies had to combat the evil that that plagued Europe.  Through this man, God brought hope to a hopeless people.  Through this man, God inspired others to courageous action.  Many died doing this work, including Mr. Bonhoeffer.  He was hanged just days before allied forces liberated the concentration camp in which he was held.  Those that knew him, spoke of a calm, confident peace about him.  A strength of character and assurance that would not waver.  Despite the suffering he endured, he continued on every day, until his last breath, caring for those within his sphere of influence, bringing a peace and a hope, that no matter what happened they were right where God would have them, doing as God would them. 

Mr. Bonhoeffer believed that the saving gift of grace, bestowed upon him by his Father through the Son, was but a beginning, to start a new.  He believed that because of the cost of that gift, he was obligated to go where called, and do what was asked no matter what.  For him that included delivering the gospel to all he could, the helpless and hopeless.  It included a martyr’s death at the end of a noose. 

Reading about Mr. Bonhoeffer got me thinking about my role in the world.  What am I called to do (big picture) and what am I asked to do (little picture).  We’re all given a cross to bear, some big, some small.  We’re also given a choice.  Do we pick it up and march on, or do we leave it setting on the ground and walk away?  Too many of us freely accept the gift of God’s grace, but stop there.  So often, so many of us do not or will not accept the price we are asked to pay.  Dietrich was not such a man.  Ask yourself, as I am, are you?  Have a blessed weekend.

Titus 2:11-14 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, 14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace

Small Things

I’m starting to realize I’m being watched.  Not by Big Brother or the NSA, though if they want to monitor my phone calls, I have to pity whoever would listen to the conversations.  However, there are little eyes in my home taking note of everything I do from how I hold my arms, to the way I dance, to the words I say.  I’m being copied on a fairly regular basis.  I didn’t realize the small things I do would have such an impact on another person.  I hope he doesn’t pick up on any bad habits, which I may not realize are even bad habits.  I hope I don’t pick up any of his bad habits, or start having more temper tantrums.  I suppose we all have some influence on one another, both in big ways in small ways.  Who is most influential in your life? 

Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.  Luke 16:10

We hear headlines every day of people in positions of power getting exposed for crimes and misdemeanors they commit both on the job and in their private lives.  In reality, one mistake can end a person’s career or family without much of a chance to ‘take it back’ or ‘make things right’.  Less famous folks like us don’t make the headlines with similar deeds, but there are also relationships that are restored through forgiveness and changed lives.  These stories with a good ending don’t usually make the news, but when we hear them, it gives hope for any and all of us who have messed up in the past.  When we think about it, we are all guilty of more things than we would like to admit, and most of us could probably go to jail if we lived by the letter of the law and confessed every misdeed to the authorities.  Hopefully, we learn from our mistakes and keep from doing stupid things in public, as well as in private, when no one is watching.  What if your deepest secrets were posted in the headlines? 

Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”  1 Corinthians 15:33

I’ve often wondered what kinds of things we will be given to do in Heaven.  I don’t think lying around playing harps will even be on the list.  Learning new skills and composing new worship songs is more likely, even if you are not musically inclined now.  Exploring the fullness and intricacies of creation and building new structures to promote God’s glory will be an adventure.  We may get to explore and practice these things to a lesser degree here and now, but think of the possibilities in either place!  As Mr. Rogers used to remind us, ‘sometimes it’s good to imagine.’   Do you think what we do in this life will have an influence on what we do in Heaven? 

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.  Do not be conceited.  Romans 12:16

If you are a parent, you have people looking up to you as a role model.  If you work with anyone else, you have people watching you as an example to them.  If you have siblings or a spouse, you are a living example of how a Christian practices their faith on a daily basis.  The pressure is not to be perfect in everything, but to strive to do your best, to grow from mistakes, and to seek forgiveness as you forgive others.  What we practice in this life, we will be able to live out fully, without the tangles of sin, when we sweep the streets in heaven. 

Yours in Christ,

Clark

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