We’re cruising down the road on a sunny, Sunday morning. My husband has finally convinced me to serve in the café at church. Appealing to me is the fact that our children can serve with us. The trees swish by and the pavement flows beneath like a river carrying us to the body of...
I have a history of a back and forth relationship with God, but I have a feeling I’m not alone. We have times when we walk closely with God, but we might fall away. And then we will come to a point where we are at the end of ourselves and we realize how much we need Jesus. There is a...
In 1955 Pittsburgh, there was an accident in a steel Mill. Perhaps there were lots of accidents in steel mills during that time, but this one changed the perspective on race in one man’s mind. Billy was working a fire in the mill. To make the fire hotter, a kind of lacquer was added to...
We’ve talked about why it’s important to serve (see Serving Part 1 here), and hopefully by now you’ve decided that either you need to start serving, or you just need to serve more. Most of us are in one of these two boats. There are a few people who serve a lot of their...
In that moment when hate was overcoming me the Lord broke through and began to work on my heart. I felt as though He was asking me, "Why is your heart so wicked?" I began to place the blame on the individual who's words hurt me. I felt that my feelings were justified. I felt the Lord speak again...
The end of August is synonymous with back to school. This one event affects a vast majority of the population. Children, teens, young adults, teachers, parents - everyone jolted from the ease of summer to the demands of the school year. There are a whirlwind of activities that surround this...
Why is it so difficult to have real conversation about our personal relationship with Jesus, especially with non-believers? When given the opportunity, we are quick to say that God has incredible power to transform lives, but we belittle the example of transformed life that we know the most...
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28) There is hope, even in these turbulent times. The spirit of the world is divisive, angry, hateful and racist. Those forces can deeply...
Following one of the most controversial election cycles in modern history, where the political drama was only amplified by the voices of our friends and family online, the social media bashing of one another’s views has not stopped. It’s easy to get swept away in it all. Convictions...
To live as followers of Jesus, we must not ignore the example Jesus set. Jesus didn’t talk about religion in buildings. He didn’t spend his time in Torah studies discussing the merits of this teacher or that. Those things have their place…but more often than not during his...
This post was originally published on the Collide Youth Blog but is a good reminder about how Scripture can help encourage us when we are tempted or fall short of our goals.
Happy New Year!
As 2018 approaches, the whole world celebrates the coming of a new year, and with that, comes New Year’s resolutions. The whole point of making resolutions is to become a better person in some way, which might mean losing a bad habit, or making better habits, or anything along those lines. And man is that difficult!
We face challenges every day from outside sources that are mostly beyond our control like schoolwork, jobs, relationships with family and friends, sicknesses, annoying people, and busy schedules. And then there are the challenges that we find within ourselves, like having a habit of lying, being tempted to sin, not holding your tongue, or feeling hatred towards someone. And those inner challenges can be the hardest to change. But what better time to deal with them than at the start of a new chapter in our lives? Hence, New Year’s resolutions.
So, what’s your resolution? Do you want to be a better Christian, sibling, student, daughter or son? Have you resolved to stop cursing, eating junk food, watching so much TV, or practicing some sin? Have you resolved to exercise more, share the Gospel more, be kinder to your little brother, be on time for things, READ more (because reading is great), or strive to do your very best in everything you do?
You may be wondering if the Bible actually says anything about this kind of stuff. Of course, it does! I thought I would share some Scriptures for you to consider when you experience moments that challenge your New Year’s resolution; moments of weakness, or temptation, or when you feel like giving up (because you will feel like giving up).
Choose the ones that fit your needs, and then to help remember them, write them on a sticky note, save them as notes to your phone, make them your screensaver, or even simply commit them to memory!
When you are tempted to flip out on someone
James 2:19 “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.”
When others are not supportive of your resolution
1 Timothy 4:12 “Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.”
When you think negative thoughts about others
Colossians 3:12 “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”
Philippians 2:3-5 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.”
When you feel your mouth (cursing, eating, lying) your body, or your desires (alcohol, shopping, violence, drugs, sex, food, etc.) are out of control
Colossians 3:5:10 “So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.”
Note: It’s important to remember that TEMPTATION IS NOT A SIN. Even Jesus was tempted in Matthew 4. But it’s also important to remember that temptation is what leads to sin, and has to be resisted. James 4:7, “So humble ourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
When you think negative thoughts about yourself
Philippians 4:8 “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
When you fail or feel defeated and you want to give up on your resolution
Galatians 6:9 “So, let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”
Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”
When you feel too timid to share your faith
2 Timothy 1:7-8 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord.”
When you are doubting God because of bad life experiences
Jeremiah 29:11-13 “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me”
When you are not sure that God will help you
Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
I can’t say it any better than this from the book of Ephesians:
“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we[d] are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:11-17
As Barbara Martin walked into the church building on Sunday, she was approached by her husband, Youth Pastor Chris Martin. He made her aware that the youth team traveling to the Dominican Republic was in need of a female chaperone.
She politely declined.
Barbara Martin did not want to go to the Dominican Republic (DR). She had no interest in the heat, the bugs, and the number of out-of-her-comfort-zone experiences there would potentially be on the trip.
She walked through the doors of the worship center and find her seat. Unbeknownst to her, God had called Pastor Drew to share about missions. During that time, Barbara felt the Lord tugging at her heart and knew that he was calling her to meet the need for a female chaperone. She walked out of the worship center that morning and into the commitment to go with the youth mission team to the DR.
The team spent their days in the Dominican Republic building a house for a woman and her children. Barbara said that children came from all over to witness the work being done. She and some of the team were able to love on the neighborhood children while work on the house was being completed. The children had dirty clothes and most had no shoes. The team handed out snacks to the children and to most, it was a precious gift.
Barbara saw dirty clothes, dirty children, mud walled houses, the heat from the stove where the fire was fed all day, more dirt, bugs, dirt that became mud when it rained, rain that did not cool the air but instead made it more oppressive, sewage that began to mingle with rivers of mud that flowed around and sometimes through the houses, more dirt, and more heat.
To be honest, little about the trip was enjoyable for Barbara.
However, God spoke very clearly to her about several things.
Sometimes, when we answer God’s call, like Barbara did to go on the trip, we believe that since we’re being obedient everything will be sunshine and roses. We think that beautiful blessings will flow out of God’s abundant love for us and it will be the best experience EVER because we are in God’s will for our lives! But, that’s not always the case – at least in terms of sunshine and roses. Paul, for example, was obedient to God’s call and he ended up in many uncomfortable places, not the least of which was prison.
But our work for God is not in vain.
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you.Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
(1 Corinthians 15:58)
God used Barbara’s experience in the DR to teach her about gratitude and dependence on Him.
Barbara witnessed the woman’s house being built and saw how she and others in the community were so dependent on God for EVERY THING. Barbara realized that in our blessed, American lives where so much comes easily, she is often not dependent on God for 30 minutes, much less dependent on him to provide everything and meet all her needs.
“The more (stuff) I have, the more I take for granted and the more I don’t depend on God,” Barbara said.
Barbara does not want to go back to the Dominican Republic. It was not a “fun” experience, but perhaps her obedience enabled the Lord to reach her on a level, out of her comfort zone, that she would not have allowed him to penetrate from the comfortable surroundings of the familiar.
In the dirt, heat, and discomfort of a foreign country, God showed her she should be doing much more at home. Barbara changed her perspective on missions and learned that she doesn’t have to go to the DR to make big changes for the kingdom of Christ. There is much to do in her community and in the lives of people she comes into contact with every day that will bring others closer to Him.
If you find yourself serving in a way that you don’t enjoy, ask God what he is teaching you. Then seek out somewhere you can serve that better meets your gifts. And remember that nothing we do for the Lord is in vain.
Ask anyone you meet at work or on the street, “What or who do we worship?” and the answers most certainly would be varied. Severn Run attendees would mostly say “God”.
But if you continued to look beyond the church walls, and observe what or who people worship you’d see a much more broad scope of practices. Many of which we may not even realize how much we worship them. You’d see Hollywood, royalty, the rich and famous, money, possessions, good looks, food, children, and maybe even spouses. You would most certainly see self.
And if you ask the same Severn Runners is service worship? With a head nod they would likely say “Yes”! Then ask how is it that so? You might then get that “deer in the headlights” look.
Why would that be? Maybe because service seems on the outside to be about the receiver. He/She who is served is the receiver, right? They do of course benefit, yet we must ask is there more or is that it? Fortunately, there is more, much more.
William J. Stewart noted on the “Looking unto Jesus” website, “Every aspect of a Christian’s life is to be service to God, but not all service is worship. However, let us also be careful not to limit our worship to 3 or 4 hours of assembly time with the Lord’s people per week. We ought to habitually set time aside to worship the Lord privately. (Matthew 6:6)” (1)
If we are wanting to worship God, just how do we do that through service? To understand the tie between service and worship, we must first understand how worship is defined in the Bible.
In John 4:24 Jesus lays it out for us this way, “God is spirit. And his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” So then, is all service worship? Yes, no, or maybe as some would argue the following points:
- If the service is rendered to God it is worship.
- With the right heart, all service in all situations is worship.
- If the service isn’t sinful, it is worship.
- Service is worship if it follows the Bible’s definition of worship.
All these points have various compelling arguments but the final option seems to be supported in knowing we are then following the teaching of God’s word.
After Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the wilderness, Satan tempted Jesus with food. He suggested Jesus test the angels who were to protect him. He offered Jesus dominion over the kingdoms of the world. After all this, Jesus had enough and Matthew 4:10 tells us how Jesus finally responded to Satan, “Get out of here, Satan.” Jesus told him. “For the scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’”
What does this mean for us today? Jesus is clearly saying that we are to serve God only. We therefore must be careful our service is not tied to things of this world such as status, self-sacrifice, admiration of others, personal recognition or anything else we might potentially worship. These things and more can seep into our service lives.
Although worship and service are closely related, they are not the same thing. As noted on the “Trusting God America” website, if they were the same there would be no reason for Jesus to address them separately.
There are at least three things to consider for service to be an act of worship:
- Proper Attitude with Correct Authority: Our mindset and perspective need to be God focused and in the Spirit for our service to be worshipful. (John 4:23-24)
- Intentional: Worship, thus service, is to support Biblical worship and have specific action that we intent to be worship.
- Truth Regulated: To worship in truth is the approved action for service. Our service must support truth which is found only in God’s word. (John 17:17)
In summary we serve to worship God and this service is an outcome of our love for God and others.
According to one blog on worship versus service, “The Divine ideal is that our worship of the Lord will inspire us to serve, and that our service for Him will flow naturally from worship.” (2) Another wrote, “We find that worship is outwardly manifested by service.” (3)
When out of worship of God, we can then chose to serve God by taking action:
- Go to Severnrunner.info
- Click on “Be the Difference”
- Complete the Level 1, 2, & 3 challenges
- Get your stickers
- Fill your card
Get started or take the next step today!
(1) http://lookinguntojesus.net/a-difference-between-service-and-worship/ by William J. Stewart
God’s people had been through a lot over their early years; they finally left Egypt very wealthy, and were on their way to the Promised Land but they were not grateful. They grumbled about the miraculous manna from heaven, they criticized their leadership, they were led by God himself in the form of fire and cloud. Yet they asked to have a golden calf built so they could bow down to it. There definitely seemed to be an absence of joy during those times. Fast forward to present times and there seems to be an absence of joy in the present day as well, at least among believers and it should not be so.
Joy is a Person and a Path
When Jesus appeared as the Savior, he brought joy in the form of his person, and a path of eternal life to be reunited with God. In Matthew 3:17, we read: And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” Jesus brings God great joy. We, as Jesus’ disciples also bring the Father great joy when we follow his commandments and share his love with others.
I’ve been meditating on a line from Nehemiah 8:10 recently. It says: ...Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” Whenever I feel down, things not going my way, anything that could go wrong seems to go wrong, I remind myself that I am weak on my own, but in God, I am strong. No need to be a grumpy, sad, overcast believer. Turn that frown upside down and rejoice because God has already won whatever battle, or condition, or circumstance for us.
Rejoice in Everything
When I read through the scripture there is so much emphasis on joy and rejoicing, it is clear that God wanted us to be happy in everything. The shepherds saw the star signaling the birth of Jesus, they were filled with joy (Matthew 2:10). A sinner repents and returns to God, heaven rejoices (Luke 15:7). If you experience any kind of trouble, count it all joy (James 1:2-8). If you are having a good day, be joyful, a bad day, be joyful. If you are having a meal together, be joyful (Acts 2:46). In this way we can show a broken world that we have something that they need.
Have you ever noticed when you go to a store that a salesperson most always will approach you with a smile and try to be very helpful? If you had to choose between a person with a smile and a person with a grumpy look on their face, whom would you want to be your salesperson? In the same way a broken world needs a joyful messenger to share a message of love.
If we live as believers and love Jesus, we have to live joyfully. We should perform a course correction in our lives if that is not already our norm. I’ve personally been working hard on myself in that respect. I’ve recently been through a nerve-wracking trial and I just stopped worrying about it and saying to myself, God’s got it. I cast my cares on him and I felt better immediately. I’ve been putting his word first, acknowledging him (Proverbs 3:6) and everything is working out for good.
I recently added a sticky note reminder to my work computer with the following items of encouragement:
- LG – let it go, and Let God,
- I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, and
- The joy of the Lord is my strength.
These sayings serve as daily reminders that I am loved and I need to reflect the love of God to others every day, no matter what.
As we fast approach Christmas Day, let us choose to follow the path of joy. Let us continually seek the joyful fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22) every minute of every day of our lives.
Every day we remain on earth is another opportunity to demonstrate God’s love to someone. I like to pray that God be reflected through me, especially his joy.
If joy makes us strong, then sorrow probably weakens us. There are times when we may feel we have no choice but to be sad, but we have a comforter in Christ who knows and who is there for us. Let us choose joy no matter the issue (1 Thessalonians 5:16).
We have a short time on earth and an eternity in heaven, let us act in a way that the Father will say that this is my child in whom I am pleased.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7)
We tend to admire people who are courageous. It could be firemen, policemen, or warriors. Courage often forms the backbone for movies and novels. We naturally root for heroic figures such as those in the Die Hard series or Frodo and his fellow travelers in Lord of the Rings.
Biblical heroes include David (who slew Goliath) and Daniel in the Lion’s den. They stood tall in the face of imminent death, trusting in the God who would save them.
God told Joshua, “Be strong and very courageous” (Joshua 1:7) and Joshua boldly went forward to conquer Israel’s foes.
The apostles and early church – with boldness and courage – proclaimed the gospel in often hostile environments and at risk to their very lives.
As Paul wrote, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). That same Spirit resides in us. Will we be strong and courageous like Joshua, David and Daniel? Will we exhibit the boldness and courage of the early church? Will we trust in God?
Jesus encourages us, “But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Let us all be overcomers with Christ. It is what we have been called and equipped to do.
Take heart! Jesus has already overcome the world!