Servanthood

Doing the big or little things for people is not just serving them, but ultimately it’s serving God.

“Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'”

Matthew 25:37-40

Servanthood in Christ

I can be self righteous thinking my words on a blog or my voice on a podcast is much greater in the Kingdom than simply wiping my child’s bum.

Servanthood looks like loving the least. If you only serve to gain recognition then it’s more like selfish-hood not servanthood. I want to serve out of my love for Jesus because that’s where the blessing is.

Jesus Washes the Disciples Feet

“When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” He asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord’, and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”

John 13:12-17

Holy Servanthood

There is no such thing as a great man of God, only weak, pitiful, faithless men of a great and merciful God.” – Paul Washer

The more I understand how Christ served people the more I understand His love for them. “I did not come to call the [self-proclaimed] righteous [who see no need to repent], but sinners to repentance [to change their old way of thinking, to turn from sin and to seek God and His righteousness]” (Luke 5:32 amp). The more I accept my weakness the more I am drawn to God’s love.

When I understand God’s love, I feel loved, and when I feel loved I show love. Loving others despite how we feel about them, their circumstances or their belief systems. We can do this by seeing their need and asking God, is it I to meet that need for them today? If so, God show me how. As it’s through your love for me that allows me to show love for others.

Pray to be a good servant

Dear Jesus,
How difficult it is to simply serve others without judgment. Help me to learn to serve with a clean heart and with your loving lens. I need to see people – my family, neighbours, friends, community – the way you see them. Help me to meet the need of my own child. She has many needs. Too many to count. Help me to not see those needs as insignificant but as significant to serving your Kingdom. As your Word says, “whatever you did not for one of the least of these, you did not do for me” (Matthew 40:45). I repent of my need to be seen by others in order to serve. To be praised, admired or acknowledged by man rather than by you. For freedom comes from Christ alone and not by the approval of man (Galatians 1:10).
Amen

Why Pray before Meals?

Looking at my daughter at the dinner table as we take our first few bites. I hadn’t prayed before the meal and didn’t bother to. Confession, I wasn’t “in the mood” to bless the dinner, just in the mood for stuffing my face. Until I thought, “why do we bless dinner?” Prompting by the Holy Spirit, convicting me of my lack of care to pray, I figured I better find the answer as to why we pray before meals.

Before diving into scripture to find the answer, I think on top of my head why I bless the food. Aside from being raised that way, I guess its an act of honour and thankfulness towards the Lord. To have food in front of us is something perhaps we take for granted. By giving thanks to the Lord its taking the time to acknowledge Him in our day. Simply put, mealtime prayers can be check points for our faith. No matter where we are, we eventually have to eat and when we do, did we give God thanks?

Did Jesus bless the food?

In Matthew 14 we see Jesus looking up to heaven saying a blessing before he broke and served bread. At this point in time it was a miracle that so much food was provided. Jesus turned a handful of food into portions that served thousands of people. Not even one person was left hungry. Giving thanks to God means recognizing His provision in our lives. Praying before meals is a fitting practice for all who trust the Father for the daily provision of their needs (Matthew 6:11).

I can’t remember a time where a meal did not satisfy my hunger for the day. What an amazing miracle that is to have. I have taken this miracle for granted by avoiding to give God thanks.

Remember the LORD your God.

Matthew 14:19, “Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.”

Deuteronomy 8:10, “And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.”

Romans 14:6, “The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.”

1 Corinthians 10:31, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Take every opportunity to give God thanks because its training you up for Godliness.

The point in finding out why I am praying before meals is so I can have a pure motive and reason behind it. Instead of just saying words because, “I’m supposed to”. One day my daughter will muster enough words together to string questions about why we do what we do. As a mother who loves the Lord I must know why I do what I do, especially when it comes to my faith.

We mustn’t stop doing the little things well or assuming the little things are “little” like praying before meals. Or else, perhaps, over time we’ll start to neglect the power and necessity it is to pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

We are to, in everything, give thanks. So why not start with our food? We know we have at least three meals a day and what a great opportunity to stop and acknowledge God before we eat. I have failed in this area making it seem like its not a big deal – but it is.

Make gratitude a big deal in your life.

If we lack gratitude, repentance is the only appropriate response.

Why We Pray for Our Meals – Jon Bloom

Instead of rushing through the prayer to get to the meal, acknowledge its gift first and give thanks to the giver. I admit, I rush many of my dinner meal prayers, and don’t even bother with breakfast or lunch! I’ve made something biblical and honorable to God become so monotonous.

I repent of my lack of care and annoyance it has been to pray before each meal. I have taken for granted a gift from God which is food on my plate. That is something alone many people can’t say they have. I have become ignorant to a gift that is given. So I thank God for His blessing upon me and its goodness it carries to nourish my body. What a miracle God has given us with available food to eat!

Pray.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Help me to walk in your light and not in my own right. So I can live in wisdom and in truth – not easily swayed by my emotions or ignorance towards sin. I repent of not seeking opportunities to thank you for what you have given me, which is food to eat. Amen.

Strive to Serve God

In the moments of chaos I need to serve God. In the moments of perfectly-executed plans I need to praise God. Each moment is a chance to serve God and it is better for us to strive to serve than to strive at all.

Striving for our own earthly desires.

I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.

Ecclesiastes 1:14

We strive, strive and strive. Putting our head down and we work, work and work. In our own efforts we grind, grind and we grind. Only while to complain, complain and complain. All for more of what someone else has – we circle back. Never satisfied. Striving for our own earthy successes and pleasures.

Serving for the glory of God.

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
    dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
 Delight yourself in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him, and he will act.
 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
    and your justice as the noonday.

Psalm 37:3-6

We serve, serve and serve. Looking up (posturing our hearts to heaven) we work, work and work. In His strength we rejoice, rejoice and rejoice. All for something beyond ourselves. We circle back to Him, who started a good work in us and will finish a good work in us. Serving for Gods gift of eternity and joy in simply being His.

What’s more important is what we’re striving for.

The word “strive” is not a bad word as it means to “make efforts to achieve or obtain something”. However, the focus is about what we are striving for… our own good or for God’s good?

For example, I tend to over-think when I am planning. I overthink the negative and how I am going to plan around IF that occurs. It’s a type of striving to prevent myself from failure. Making efforts to achieve a good time! But, no plan is perfect and not everyday goes as predicted. So when the unexpected happens… how do I respond? I may easily crumble under the pressure and the overthinking becomes overwhelming as my plans fail.

Our greater purpose is hidden in serving God.

This is where I need to shift from striving for my own gain to serving for God’s glory. Yes, making plans and being prepared is a good thing! I still make plans and do the best with what I know I can control. However, when it fails, can the plans still be good? Yes, there are opportunities already made for us that we cannot control. Having the mind of Christ and perspective of serving God will help increase our awareness of Him in our days.

Our mandate as Christians is not based on what we have done on earth. Its about simply believing what Christ has already done! This is the starting hope we need to have each morning. So our efforts of living righteously is based upon our focus in Christ. This way our life is not vain and our striving efforts to serve God make an impact on the people around us.

Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

Titus 2:7-10

Renew your Mind

Everyday is an opportunity to renew our mind and its a chance we need to take. Otherwise the world will dictate our decisions, ideas and passions far from God’s will for us.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:2

Do not be conformed to this world

Paul, warns Christians not to abide or comply to the standards of the world but by the standards of God. We must recognize what in the world opposes God, so we can discern what’s good.

Be transformed by the renewal of your mind

It’s so easy to conform to a world that is constantly telling us to do whatever makes us happy or feels good. So how do we avoid its temptations – Paul says, with transformation. It’s by the work of the Holy Spirit. Not in our own will or our own mind, but by the work of Christ who does a work within us. However, we don’t wait around for it to just happen, we do our part in allowing transformation to occur.

For example, I used to pray for things “to go away.” “Dear Jesus, “take away this problem, this anger, this anguish.. this situation away from me!” Not a bad prayer, the problem was its focus and my lack of obedience to God. My prayer had intentions of my own will in what I think God should do. God, “take this away from me because I know its best for me”. It was a worldly focus of “I deserve”. The only way to switch perspective was to think in a way that honours God. Transformation occurs through prayer and knowledge of God. Recognizing and honouring the fact that He first loved us. I use scripture to guide my prayers because then I can focus on Him and less on me.

Discern the will of God

The good and peace in my life increases when I am confident in my decision making because I know it lines with the will of God. Despite the outcome and through the testing of my faith, I can trust in Him who works all things together for good (Romans 8:28).

Practical ways to renew your mind:

  1. Use scripture to guide your prayer life – Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”
  2. Read the Bible alongside a friend, spouse or group study for community, support and accountability.
  3. Spend time with God to hear His voice. Try writing out your prayers in a journal and read scripture, asking yourself, “how does this passage describe God’s character?”
  4. Check out this great resource to get started in reading your Bible: The Bible Recap.

“If we evict the one true God from our throne of worship, we will replace Him with ourselves. If we are the final source for “our truth,” we can easily make God into our own image instead of the other way around.” – Alisa Childers

Mama Bear Apologetics

This is why renewing your mind is a daily pursuit. We must take advantage of our relationship with God by allowing the Holy Spirit to renew our mind. So we can avoid slipping into a worldview that is “our own”. Instead we need to pursue the God view (the Biblical view) as our own.

Fear of what ifs Vs. Faith of what is

The Battle

I’m not going to fool anyone by saying, “I figured out how to live by faith not fear!” But, I will say, “I’m trying to figure out how to live by faith and not fear”. It’s a continual process and part of being human. Did I mention, I am a mother? Fear is going to be part of raising children. You want them to succeed, avoid danger or avoid any emotional or physical hurt at all – BAH!!! However, life throws hard “stuff” that we aren’t always ready to catch and is impossible to avoid. So, if I want faith to win over fear then I need to understand who’s leading the battle of both. Then with the knowledge of both I can decide (with confidence) why fighting for faith is worth the battle.

The Faith Team – Led by God

Who is God? Well that’s a big question because He’s pretty big, so I’ll attempt to write simply about Him. God is 3 persons in 1 God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), omnipresent, creator and ruler of the world. What about His character? God is just, mighty, love and compassionate. Lastly, God is truth and He made promises for us in the Bible. What are some that I can lean on to bring me faith not fear? God promises eternal life to all who believe in Jesus Christ and repent of their sin. As a Christian and believer of Jesus I do not fear death. God promises He will help me and give me strength. I do not fear my own weakness. He promises He is always with me. I do not fear being alone. God says don’t be anxious about anything. I do not fear my own worries!

What is life with God vs. What is life without him.

Life with God means believing scripture is the truth and being obedient to what He says. I read my Bible because it leads my life and without it I am choosing to live without Him. I want real truth to lead my life so I need to know what He says “is”.

VS.

The Fear Team – Led by Sin

Who is sin? Wait isn’t this a good guy vs bad guy, obvious scenario? Well, if I wrote “the Devil” than yes it would be. No one generally wants to be on the Devil’s team. But writing “sin” is more complicated because the Devil cannot make us sin, but he can tempt us to. So sin can seem desirable, enjoyable and an inviting team. Its a war against our flesh and spirit. So what is sin? Well, simply explaining best I can, sin is anything we idolize above God. For example, its what we do, think or act upon what God hates or does not like. Hmm, that can be a long list, considering we are not perfect. So if sin is evident in us, then how do we fight against its team?

We need to know its strategy…

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.

James 1:14-16

Sin is deception

Our culture says truth is anything you believe in your heart is true! Where are the boundaries of good and evil in that? The sin team says, “if you say its good than its good! But fear lives in that because you can never know if that’s really true… so fear is still lives in the, “what if it’s not good for me?” Sin makes false promises to make you think you know better than God.

The sin team says, “do your best in whatever makes you happy!” But fear lives in that too because how do you know what truly makes you happy? Where does happiness come from?! If sin can make you feel “happy” but called evil in the Bible… why do I enjoy sin and sometimes I don’t?

Sin is satisfaction in the moment but detrimental for the long game.

Sin leaves us with no certainty of joy. It’s a hopeless promise into…. “what if” and when your life is on the line that’s just not enough to trust.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

1 John 2:15-17

What team do you trust?

I want to join a team I know I can trust, believe with certainty and helps me mature righteously. Not one I make up on my own. I don’t trust myself… I’ve made a stir-fry once with oyster sauce as its base instead of hoisin sauce. The over saltiness of my dinner was unbearable to eat, a funny example of how I am untrustworthy to lead myself. Living as salt of the world is no good when it loses its essence to enhance flavor – its useless (Matthew 5:13). I am destructive and useless in my own flesh and in need of God who can lead me by His Spirit.

THUS, here is the battle…

For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

Galatians 5:17

Our flesh (mortal beings) vs. our spirit (eternal beings) are at war. We must set our mind on things above and trust in the Word of God that is true. So God’s word can be the forefront of our mind and not the world’s ideas and falsified fads of “what’s happy this season” which gives no certainty of joy or eternal peace.

The Bible keeps me away from the destruction of my own sin. I read to understand and have a greater knowledge of He who I am following. This in turn renews my mind which gives me peace and joy in my life. Verses fear, which suffocates me – feeding me lies that the joy is in my control or found within me. Thus, there is freedom in faith – which says, its not in your control but by the grace of Jesus Christ.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20

Fighting with Faith

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

1 Timothy 6:12

What we can control, as Christians, is our faith and how we choose to fight on its team! Each and everyday is an opportunity to renew our mind. It starts through our knowledge of Christ so we can become more like Him who blazed the trail before us.

Lead me God, show me where I lack faith so I can remove the lie of fear that my flesh wants to believe.

God’s Presence over Performance

Luke 5:15-16: “Yet the news about him spread all the more. So that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”

When Jesus began His ministry on earth at the age of 33, he began teaching through His authority as Christ and healing the sick wherever he went. Word spread and people would swarm him with illnesses asking him to heal them. I love what this passage says in verse 16, “But, Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed”.

There is a reminder here for everyone and especially for those leading in ministry.  Perhaps your ministry is overwhelming and your time is limited with higher pressures and responsibilities. The only time you get to be alone with God is when you are asking Him to prepare a teaching, a meeting, a presentation, or to deliver a biblical response to the public. Even though the pressures to heal and teach were part of Jesus’ ministry, He purposely withdrew to pray alone and he did so often.  He withdrew while there were masses of people still crowding Him asking him for healing. If Jesus needed to withdraw to spend time with God, then we ought to as well.

In one of my books called, “Hearing God Through Your Dreams” by Mark Virkler and Charity Virkler Kayembe, I found this remarkable response by Dr, Billy Graham…

Larry King interviewed Billy Graham, a famous Christian evangelist who saved many lives around the world through his preaching of the Gospel.  Shortly after his 80th birthday, Larry King said, “It must be rewarding to you to look back on your life and not have to live with regrets.” Yet Dr. Graham’s response was surprising, “I am the greatest failure of all men. I was too much with men and too little with God. I was too busy with business meetings and even conducting services. I should have been more with God, and people would’ve sensed God’s presence about me when they were with me.”

Spending time with God was the main reason He got you this far and perhaps now that there is growth in your ministry the responsibilities and pressures are even higher. So the focus has become more about your performance and less about God’s presence.

If Jesus often withdrew to pray then we must too. There is freedom in saying no to the world in order to be with God. It is through Him that works through us anyway.  Even if you are not leading in ministry this should still encourage you with any vocation you’re in. Have you let personal performance become more important than seeking God’s presence? Make time in your day to pray. Do so often.

Bible verses about Jesus praying

 

Weakness In The Way

Understanding how to manage your weaknesses will help you to learn how to manage and elevate your strengths. We all have strengths and we all have weaknesses, they come as a unique package, you cannot have one without the other. Which means we must not focus on only one but have an understanding of both.

The interviewer asks, “What are your strength and what are your weaknesses?” Not, “do you have any weaknesses…?” It is already assumed that every person has them. The question is then, how can I help you in achieving your strength’s despite your weaknesses in this job role? It is inevitable that you are going to have weak areas about you that hold you back from being your best. What are they so I can be of best assistance to you?

Imagine for a moment that God is the interviewer, except instead of asking you, “what are your weaknesses?” He tells you what they are.

Not to discourage you but to encourage you that even with your weaknesses He can be of best assistance for and through you. But first you must know what they are.

Benefits of knowing your weakness is so you can avoid the element of surprise when they arise. For example, the element of surprise may come in a form of anxiety, and without knowledge or time to process why that feeling arose it can spiral to a panic attack. The goal is to not let the weaknesses hold you back from moving forward. The goal is to acknowledge their existence to better manage their feelings.

I want to encourage you that you are not defined by your weakness, but by your ability to manage them for strength. Seek God in question: “What are my weaknesses that keep me from elevating my strengths?” “Show me how YOU can assist me in my weakness.”

2 Corinthians 12:9-11 NIV

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

This is how we manage our weakness; we replace its power with God’s grace through prayer and submission. The focus does not shift on your own power but on the power of the cross. Your weakness is not a set back – it’s a breakthrough; an opportunity to glorify God.

Routine Interrupted

Having the same bedtime routine every night can assist in a good night’s rest. Routines help us in creating order and structure in our life. It’s the predicable things we do each day to get us out the door to work, to the gym and back to bed. Routines are good, we like routines.

But routines don’t always work, nor do they always last the same way, same time, and every day. Interruptions occur, more than we would probably like. An interruption to our day could be as simple as the car doesn’t start in the morning, or as severe as someone in the family got sick… Interruptions can be stressful and most often we are never prepared for them.

Being a new mother comes with a lot of FEAR and unexpected interruptions that occur with raising a baby. What gives me comfort is having a routine specifically around my baby’s sleep schedule. I gain confidence in having our daily routine. However, it can change in a moment and when it does it can create a stormy period for us. To gain back control, in midst of the storm, I find it’s in the researching. By gaining understanding and learning about the developmental stages of my baby, it helps me to know how to navigate the stormy period. I learn more about her, myself, and I gain encouragement through receiving messages from other mama friends who have gone before me and experienced this same storm.

The more I study about my baby’s developmental stages the more I am ready for our next storm. As Christians we need to apply the same study to our spiritual life. The Bible is our guidance to living life. I don’t have answers as to why certain things happen to you and I, but God knows and I’m writing to encourage you to seek him in His Word, to understand His character through it.

Jesus, who commands the wind and the waves to be still, will also command the fears in your life to be still. We learn this through Mark 4:35-41: Jesus Calms the Storm:

35That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

IVP Bible Background Commentary by: Kenner says: “Storms often rose suddenly on the lake called the Sea of Galilee; these fishermen had usually stayed closer to Capernaum and are unprepared for a squall this far from shore.” Key note, from this detail it assumes that to avoid a storm in their journey, routine had them stay closer to shore. But in this passage Jesus commands they go to the other side, far from shore. An interruption to their routine occurs when they sail far form shore encountering a vicious storm. Riddled with fear they ask Jesus, “teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

So often we get put in these unprepared territories far from our “normal” shoreline and its fearful. It seems like if it’s not in our daily routine, it’s “out of our control”. When Jesus calms the storm He proves that we don’t have control in our human strength, but the control is found in our spiritual strength, our faith in Him. “He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” As Christians we know that Jesus has already gone before us, being the ultimate replacement to our fear, anxieties, loneliness’, and death by His death on the cross. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish by have eternal life.”

Where in your life have you been experiencing a storm or an unexpected interruption? How are you letting it lead your life? Don’t let the next interruption to your routine defeat you. Beat it by learning about the character of Jesus Christ because faith in Jesus has more power than any storm.