SERVING ONE ANOTHER
! Bible Reading: Galatians 5:1-13 Key Verse: Galatians 5:13- “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” Key Words: but by love serve one another
Nature gives us illustrations of how to live together. The principle is called commensolism. It involves living together, but not at the expense of others. For example, there is a small salt water fish known as the goby. The goby has poor eyesight and is defenseless, thus it is vulnerable to predators. However, the goby is a superb digger. Shrimp, on the other hand, have great eyesight and good defenses but are poor Why are we diggers, thus they lack proper shelter. Commensolism results in the goby digging a hole in here on earth? which the two live together. The shrimp thus serves as the lookout and protector. Neither lives at the expense of the other without providing for the other. This is the way it should work in the church. We all use our strengths and gifts, and in doing so, we work together as a body, and all our weaknesses are diminished. Charlie Brown once asked Lucy, “Why are we here on earth?” A moment of contemplation was all that was necessary before Lucy answered, “Why, we are here to serve other people.” Charlie Brown’s forlorn look faded with his next question, “Well, then why are other people here on earth?” In part, we are here to serve one another. We are to live commensally. However, even if others don’t serve us, we should not forfeit our role as servants. The local church is intended to harmoniously live together serving one another – neither at the expense of the other.
What to do: ! Serve one another.
TRAITS OF A SERVANT OCTOBER 2 ! Bible Reading: Colossians 3 Key Verse: Colossians 3:22- “Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God:” Key Words: Servants, obey in all things your masters
Knowing the traits of a slave enable us to better understand our function as servants of Christ. First of all, a slave had no rights. In this day of children’s rights, minority rights, women’s rights, a servant has no rights. One of the reasons we fail to make good, Godly servants is that we are too busy demanding our rights. Secondly, a slave could own no property. We, as God’s children, are His servants and are stewards, only taking care of God’s possessions that He has entrusted to us. Third, a servant submits his will to the will of his master.
Nelson Price, in his book Servants, Not Celebrities, says, “Slaves knew and accepted their status. They experienced little disappointment because they knew what to expect. They had no false hopes or misplaced aspirations. Their joy and fulfillment came in faithfully serving a good master. The character of the master, not the task, made the service a reward in itself. When our focus is on our Master, Jesus Christ, and not upon our role or reward, there is gratification. Our pleasure is found in pleasing Him. Life’s most menial or tedious task takes on a new personality when viewed from this perspective.”
What to do: ! Accept your status as a servant of God’s.
RESPONSIBILITY OF A SERVANT OCTOBER 3 ! Bible Reading: Philippians 3:7-21 Key Verse: Philippians 3:13- “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,” Key Words: but this one thing I do
Do you realize that the word responsibility is not found in the Bible? But you do find the word faithfully; and as you study the verses where faithfully is mentioned, it always comes with the idea of fulfilling our responsibility. •II Chronicles 34:12a, “And the men did the work faithfully...” They were thorough with their responsibilities. •Proverbs 29:14, “The king that faithfully judgeth the poor, his throne shall be established forever.”
•III John 5, “Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers.” You get the idea that the Lord expects us to carry out our responsibilities faithfully. If I’m sick, I still have the responsibility to see that my areas of responsibility are carried out faithfully. The same is true if I go on vacation. I am to see that nothing is lacking, that a beat is never missed in my area of responsibility. This should all be done in a timely, orderly fashion. This is being a responsible person. There is a little saying I have that goes as follows. “There once was a job that anybody could do but nobody did. Now, when everybody found out that nobody had done the job that anybody could do, everybody got upset at somebody.” Now, the moral of the story is this: if somebody had just carried out their responsibility that anybody could have carried out, nobody would have gotten upset at anybody. Let me do the thing that I should do when it should be done, as it should be done, whether I like doing it or not.
What to do: ! Servants fulfill their responsibility.
OCTOBER 4 ! Bible Reading: Psalm 116 Key Verse: Psalm 116:16- “O LORD, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds.” Key Words: O LORD, truly I am thy servant
Service performed by a bond slave was both voluntary and devout. So it should be in our lives as well, after what Jesus has done for us. A. B. Earle writes the following:
“During a terrible storm at sea that threatened every moment to carry the ship to the bottom, one of the ship’s crew was doing something on the deck when a great sea struck the ship and went fairly over the deck, striking this man with great force, disabling him and carrying him into the mad waters. “Although he was a good swimmer, he was so disabled that he could only keep above water. They saw him lifting up his imploring hands through the white
foam, signifying his desire for help. But the Captain said, ‘Don’t lower a boat, for no small boat can live in this sea, in this terrific storm. We cannot save the man. The most we can do is to save the ship.’ “The vessel was bearing farther and farther from the helpless man. Once more they saw his imploring hands come up among the white caps further off, which moved all hearts that witnessed it. Still the Captain said a small boat must not be lowered, as it could not live a moment among these wild billows. “But one man who was an expert swimmer, was so moved by the imploring signals of the drowning man, that he threw off his loose garments, saying, ‘I will save the man, or die with him.’ “So plunging into the deep, he struggled so bravely with the mad waters that he reached the poor man just as his strength had gone; he had given up and was filling with water, and sinking down unconscious. He grasped him, and strange to tell, he brought him so near the ship that a small boat was lowered, and both men were taken up and laid down upon the deck, the one that had been swept overboard, entirely unconscious, and his deliverer nearly so. Appliances were used and both were brought to consciousness. “As soon as the rescued man opened his eyes and found he was not in the ocean, his first words were, ‘Who saved me?’ “He was pointed to his deliverer still lying on the deck in his wet clothes. He crept to his deliverer, and putting his arms around his feet, and in the most tender and heart moving tone of voice cried out, ‘I’m your servant, I’m your servant.’ “He felt that he could never do enough for him. Let me ask all who read this incident, would you not put your arms about the bleeding feet of your great Deliverer and say from a full heart: ‘Jesus, I’m your servant, I’m your servant. Ask anything of me, Jesus, and I will do it the best I can’?”
What to do: ! Do your best for Christ.
Hell is the highest reward that the devil can offer you for being a servant of his. Billy Sunday
THE DEACON AS A SERVANT
! Bible Reading: I Timothy 3:8-13 Key Verse: I Timothy 3:8- “Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;” Key Words: Likewise must the deacons
Diakonos is a Greek word for “servant” and is translated into our English word deacon. The word deacon was first used as an adjective to speak of one’s activities. Later it was used as a noun referring to an office. As you study the word deacon in the Bible, it becomes clear that the role of a deacon is to be the servant of another. The following story is told about Jerry Clower. “He was informed that one of his children had been involved in a dramatic car wreck. As he sped to where the child was said to be, he did not know if the child was dead or alive. He said that as he drove he prayed, ‘Lord, help me to act like I have always told folks they should act.’ Fortunately, the child lived. Even more fortunately, even without knowing the child would live, he acted not only like he had always told folks they should act, but like he knew His Master had told him to act. That is the way it is with a servant. Servants want to carry out the instructions of their masters. They live to obey.” This should be true, not only for deacons but, for all of us. Should it not?
What to do: ! Live to obey God.
We don't serve God to gain His acceptance; we are accepted so we serve God. We don't follow Him in order to be loved; we are loved so we follow Him. Neil T. Anderson
COUNTRY CLUB CHRISTIANITY
! Bible Reading: I Timothy 6 Key Verse: I Timothy 6:17- “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;” Key Words: nor trust in uncertain riches
Poverty in itself is not a blessing, nor are riches necessarily a curse. But I do believe it is easier for poor people to be fervent in the Lord’s service than for those who are wealthy. An old story illustrates the point well. In an area where ocean ships often crashed on the rocks in violent weather was a harbor town widely known for its dedicated rescue team. Whenever the siren sounded, a group of men rushed to the scene of the accident, risking life and limb to save the sailors from drowning. After several years, the citizens had enough money to build a rescue station close to the shore, which greatly facilitated the operation. A little later, some of the people took special training and became even more efficient. As time went by, they added some comforts and conveniences to the building. They furnished it with a lounge and a kitchen, then a bar and sleeping quarters. Finally, it became a club where the townspeople gathered to have fun and relax. The alarm still sounded but nobody responded anymore. They were reluctant to leave their comforts and pleasures. A number of people would drown offshore, but no one seemed to notice. Can we view this story as a picture of the change that takes place among Christians as we begin to amass this world’s goods? Do we grow less concerned about the lost? Have we taken on a country club mentality? I am afraid we have. We do not need a country club mentality – but we do need revival! A heart that’s warm with deep concern when set on worldly goals, will quickly cool and cease to yearn for lost and dying souls.
What to do: ! Keep a servant’s heart or you’ll develop a country club mentality.
BLESSED ARE THE DEAD
! Bible Reading: Revelation 14:1-13 Key Verse: Revelation 14:13- “And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.” Key Words: Blessed are the dead
The apostle Paul informs us that Jesus once said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35) He, of course, is speaking of material possessions, and Paul Too often we compares it to sowing in anticipation of a forget that it harvest. I wonder if we have looked upon giving as a matter of sowing in the hope of reaping. is a blessing to When we give to some needy cause, we should be able to give do so without expecting anything in return or it is not a gift which we have given but a loan we have made. Too often we forget that it is a blessing to be able to give, and that we are not on the other side with those in need. A spring of water continually gives while a pool of water continually receives. That is why a spring is always fresh and a pool becomes stagnant, constantly needing attention. Once you fully comprehend the blessing of giving, there will be no need for schemes, drives, or sales to support God’s work. The poor preacher would not need to plead, urge and beg to keep the church he is pastoring afloat. A giving church cannot die but when people stop giving, the church is dead even if the auditorium is full. It is simply full of dead people. Anything that has life gives. After a minister had earnestly pleaded for the cause of missions, a penurious old deacon complained, “All this giving will kill the church.” The pastor replied, “Take me to one church which died from giving and I will leap upon its grave and shout to high heaven, ‘Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord.’” (Revelation 14:13)
What to do: ! Remember, servants give!!!
A TRIUMPHANT SERVANT
! Bible Reading: John 9:1-12 Key Verse: John 9:4- “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.” Key Words: I must work the works of him that sent me
There is a three-fold Biblical standard for the triumphant servant. First of all, he voluntarily submits (Philippians 2:8). Secondly, he is totally dependent on his Master (John 5:30). Last of all, he will have steadfast devotion (John 9:4). Notice that none of the three things mentioned involves ability, but they all require availability. In 1972, NASA launched the exploratory space probe Pioneer 10. According to Leon Jaroff in Time, the satellite’s primary mission was to reach Jupiter, photograph the planet and its moons, and beam data to earth about Jupiter’s magnetic field, radiation belts, and atmosphere. Scientists regarded this as a bold plan, for at that time no earth satellite had ever gone beyond Mars, and they feared the asteroid belt would destroy the satellite before it could reach its target. But Pioneer 10 accomplished its missions and much, much more. Swinging past the giant planet in November 1973, God cannot Jupiter’s immense gravity hurled Pioneer 10 at a higher rate of speed toward the edge of the solar work, system. At one billion miles from the sun, Pioneer 10 however, passed Saturn. At some two billion miles, it hurtled through past Uranus; Neptune at nearly three billion miles; Pluto at almost four billion miles. By 1997, twentysomeone who five years after its launch, Pioneer 10 was more than quits. six billion miles from the sun. And despite that immense distance, Pioneer 10 continued to beam back radio signals to scientists on Earth. “Perhaps most remarkable,” writes Jaroff, “those signals emanate from an 8-watt transmitter, which radiates about as much power as a bedroom night light, and takes more than nine hours to reach earth.” The “Little Satellite That Could” was not qualified to do what it did. Engineers designed Pioneer 10 with a useful life of just three years. But it kept going and going. By simple longevity, its tiny 8-watt transmitter radio accomplished more than anyone thought possible.
So it is when we offer ourselves to serve the Lord. God can work even through someone with 8-watt abilities. God cannot work, however, through someone who quits – Philippians 3:12-14; Hebrews 12:1; and Mark 10:45.
What to do: ! Give God your “availability.” He will take care of the ability part.
! Bible Reading: Matthew 25:31-46 Key Verse: Matthew 25:40- “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Key Words: ye have done it unto me
Matthew Henry observed, “If the work be done in Christ’s name, the honor is due to His name.” If we refuse to serve because the reward is too minimal, or the task too menial, we lack a servant’s heart and dishonor our Lord. Knowing the honor is due our Lord will not cause us to demur in doing it. Our ambition for His honor should be so strong that we will attempt any task if He gets any measure of honor. It is our failure to serve that robs God of the honor of a job well done and is tantamount to depriving the Lord of a portion of His glory. Leo Tolstoy wrote the story of a Russian cobbler named Martin Avdyeeich. He lived in a cellar with a single window. From his vantage point he saw mostly boots of those who passed by. Few there were that had not been touched by his hand. While Martin was still a journeyman his wife died. As their one son grew to be the pride of his life, he too died suddenly, leaving Martin despairing and murmuring against God. One day Martin was visited by an old peasant passing through his city. He said to Martin, “Thy speech, Martin, is not good. How shall we judge the doings of God? It is because thou wouldst have lived for thine own delight that thou dost despair.” “But what is a man to live for?” inquired Martin.
The old pilgrim answered, “For God, Martin. He gave thee life and for Him thou
must live. Then thou wilt grieve about nothing more, and all things will come easy to thee.”
The story continues with Martin finding fulfillment in serving others. He is gratified in performing the most meager service for the humblest of people for he came to realize the truth as spoken by Christ when He said, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40).
What to do: ! Do all for Jesus and it will change much that you do.
THE NANOOK COMPLEX OCTOBER 10 ! Bible Reading: Romans 6:1-13 Key Verse: Romans 6:11- “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Key Words: but alive unto God
When we come to Christ, and accept Him as Savior, we come out of a selfwilled world where we have been looking out for “Number One.” Egotism, selfcenteredness, and a person’s pride are things that typify our world. While climbing the ladder of success, we lick the shoes of those on the rung above us while stomping on the head of those below us. Worldly success at any price and at any expense is our motto. To climb higher on the ladder of success is When it comes no sin in the eyes of the world. That’s the world’s to servanthood way. Living in that environment and being there is no converted from that culture, we come to Christ, greater unfortunately, bringing that attitude. It clashes with hindrance than the attitude of being a servant. A celebrity mentality and a servant temperament cannot self. coexist together. Upon coming to Christ we stop looking at ourselves and start focusing on Christ. For some, this is instantaneous; for others, it’s a struggle; and for pretenders, it never works for long. Jack Parr once said, “Looking back, my life seems like one long obstacle course, with me as the chief obstacle.” When it comes to servanthood there is no greater hindrance than self.
There was once a cartoon in New Yorker magazine with the caption “Nanook Goes South.” It was one of those multi-frame cartoons. In the first, Nanook was pictured in his native cold north country wearing a heavy parka. A subsequent frame showed him in the sunny warm south wearing that same warm parka. The caption notes he is “boiling in his parka, but old habits die hard.” A bit of Nanook lives in all of us. Only Christ can enable us to overcome this “Nanook complex.”
What to do: ! Live for God, not for self. Make this your daily practice, and eventually it will become a way of life.
A TRUE SERVANT
! Bible Reading: John 8:26-36 Key Verse: John 8:31- “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;” Key Words: then are ye my disciples indeed
Part of being a servant consists of learning how the master wants things done, how he does them, and in doing them his way. This is also called discipleship. Basically to become a disciple is to become a duplicate. It is more than learning what the teacher knows, or even doing what he does. It is becoming what he is. Our Lord Jesus is the One we should desire to emulate. In order to accomplish this, we must observe Him, listen to Him, and obey Him. To become what He is, His Word must be our will. For a servant, the Bible becomes the procedure manual. If we accept what we like, and reject what we dislike, then we are no longer a faithful servant. A true servant looks up to his master. You may have been looking back in disappointment. You may have been looking forward in despair and hopelessness. You may have been looking within with despondency. These habits can only be broken by looking up in delight. Your attitude will always be determined by who and what you focus on.
What to do: ! Know what the Master (Jesus) wants based on God’s Word and then do it. It’s not that complicated, and it’s only hard when we have failed to be a genuine servant/disciple.
A DESIROUS SERVANT
! Bible Reading: Psalm 123 Key Verse: Psalm 123:2- “Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the LORD our God, until that he have mercy upon us.” Key Words: as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters
Nelson Price in his book, Servants, Not Celebrities, says, “The slaves of Bible times would cross their hands on their chests and stand silently at the end of the hall, eyes fastened on their master. They sought only to please him.” It is apparent that servanthood was their life. They did not wait to get off-duty; they lived to serve. So it should be in our lives. “Lord, my eyes are on You. What would You have me to do?” In order to be a desirous servant, our view of God must change.
God is not a super-cop to rescue us when danger threatens. He is our Lord. God is not a rabbit’s foot to be taken and rubbed when we need a little luck. He is our Lord. God is not a humorist to entertain us in melancholy moments. He is our Lord.
God is not a parachute to be relied on when all else fails. He is our Lord. God is our Lord and we should stop living to be served and start living as servants. In our lives there should be no indication of resenting or resisting my service for Him. Like the Egyptian slaves we should seek His will. When a command is given, our action should be instantaneous. The Lord’s commands should be considered an opportunity to do something worthwhile.
What to do: ! Stop serving self and do something worthwhile by serving God.
THE MASTER OF THE SERVANT
! Bible Reading: Matthew 6:19-34 Key Verse: Matthew 6:24- “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Key Words: No man can serve two masters
Jesus is speaking to His followers on a slope overlooking the scenic Sea of Galilee. Northward the crowd could have looked and seen the snow-capped peak of Mt. Hermon, and behind them was the blue water of the Jordan. What a sight this was and is!
Jesus spoke of a number of things but in verse 24
Just think today what you can accomplish for the Lord with Jesus as your Master.
He says, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon [money].”
Nelson Price in his book, Servants, Not Celebrities, tells of how basketball player, Pete Maravich, acknowledged what he could have accomplished in life if he had had the right master. “’Pistol’ Pete Maravich was a three-time all-
American at LSU in basketball, player of the year, NCAA career leading scorer, who played ten years in the NBA. After retiring from the NBA, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame. He was perhaps farther ahead of his game than any athlete ever in any sport. This pilgrimage led him to a saving faith in Christ. The night after I baptized him, we sat in my study until after midnight with his asking one question after the other about Scripture. Suddenly, this man, whose career I and millions had admired, reflexively stood up and forcefully struck his fist against the palm of his other hand exclaiming, ‘Man, was I great!’ (No one can successfully argue with that.) He continued, ‘Man, was I great! But just think how good I could have been if my life had been right with the Lord then.’”
Just think today what you can accomplish for the Lord with Jesus as your Master.
What to do: ! Make Jesus Master of your life (Colossians 1:18). P. S. Over the course of the next three devotions, we will be looking at how Jesus can become the Master of your life.
ADMIT OCTOBER 14 ! Bible Reading: Luke 10:25-37 Key Verse: Luke 10:34- “And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.” Key Words: And went to him, and bound up his wounds
Who is your master? There is a definite way to tell. It doesn’t matter who we say our master is. What we do reveals who it is.
Here is the test to determine your master. Romans 6:16, “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?”
Mark the words, “yield yourselves servants to obey.” Our servanthood is not our words but our actions.
A practical application of this occurred some years ago when a Salvation Army worker found a young woman lying helplessly abandoned on a city street. She leaned over and whispered to the sobbing discard, “Jesus loves you.” She then gently kissed her on the brow and, upon seeing a slow response, helped her to her feet. A bond began which resulted in that human reject receiving Christ as her Savior. Later she told the Salvation Army worker, “I didn’t care when you told me that God loved me. It wasn’t until you showed me He did that it mattered.” There is a big bruised, bewildered, and bleeding world awaiting your demonstration.
So before I can be an effective servant, I must be willing to admit that as of today, at this very moment, I’m not one.
What to do: ! If you are not a servant, take step one toward becoming one: admit you’re not.
COMMIT OCTOBER 15 ! Bible Reading: Psalm 37:1-13 Key Verse: Psalm 37:5- “Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.” Key Words: Commit thy way
The word commit means totally sold out. If we are to be successful servants, then we must commit our way unto the Lord. Commitment is vital to success. Someone once said, commitment must be: " Thought out – How can I be committed? " Bought out – No turning back! " Wrought out – It should grow day by day. " Fought out – Satan doesn’t want you committed to servanthood. See Job for an example. But commitment is the key.
An unknown author wrote the following: “On a recent trip to Haiti, I heard a Haitian pastor illustrate to his congregation the need for total commitment to Christ. His parable: A certain man wanted to sell his house for $2,000. Another man wanted very badly to buy it, but because he was poor, he couldn’t afford the full price. After much bargaining, the owner agreed to sell the house for half the original price with just one stipulation: He would retain ownership of one small nail protruding from just over the door. “After several years, the original owner wanted the house back, but the new owner was unwilling to sell. So the first owner went out, found the carcass of a dead dog, and hung it from the single nail he still owned. Soon the house became unlivable, and the family was forced to sell the house to the owner of the nail.
“The Haitian pastor’s conclusion: ‘If we leave the devil with even one small peg in our life, he will return to hang his rotting garbage on it, making it unfit for Christ’s habitation.’”
What to do: ! Commitment doesn’t leave any nails hanging around.
! Bible Reading: Luke 18:18-24 Key Verse: Luke 18:23- “And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.” Key Words: he was very sorrowful
I do realize that Luke 18:18-24 is dealing with the subject of salvation and that the rich ruler was not willing to give up his riches to follow God. But there are even more believers who refuse to give up their “goods” to be a servant of God’s. The keys to being a servant are: 1. Admit: we must first admit that we are not being a servant. 2. Commit: we must commit ourselves to service. 3. Submit: we must submit to what God wants us to do and be. This also includes “our goods, riches, and bounty.”
A missionary was witnessing to a native chief in a primitive culture. The chief offered gifts of blankets, jewelry, and horses. The missionary wisely said, “My God does not want the chief’s blankets, jewelry, and horses. My God wants the chief himself.” Instinctive wisdom guided the chief’s response, “You have a very wise God, for when I give Him myself, He also gets my blankets, jewelry, and horses.” God wants the assets He has put in our trust, not in order to take them away from us but to enable us to use them for their highest good. When they are yielded to Him, they are glorifying to Him and gratifying to us.
I read the following in regard to serving and thought it to be a good illustration of what we should be to God.
Franklin D. Roosevelt had a constant companion named Harry Hopkins. Someone asked the President, “Why do you keep that frail, sickly Harry Hopkins at your elbow?” Instantly, the chief executive gestured toward the door and replied,
“Hundreds come through that door daily who want something from me. Harry Hopkins wants only to serve me. That is why he is no near to me.”
What to do: ! Remember, one’s nearness to God is in direct proportion to one’s service for God.
DEVOTION OCTOBER 17 ! Bible Reading: John 12:23-36 Key Verse: John 12:25- “He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.” Key Words: He that loveth his life shall lose it
Love seeks only one thing: the good of the one loved. There is a great example of love for God illustrated through the Chinese pastor, Watchman Nee, who was threatened by his Communist captors in their attempt to get him to recant his faith in God. “They warned that if he did not rescind his witness, his arms would be cut off. In the city square, before a sea of people, he was forced to kneel and place both arms on a block where they were chopped off at the elbows. He staggered to his feet and lifted his bleeding stubs to heaven and prayed, ‘Thank you, Lord, that I can gladly give my hands in sacrifice to you.’ Had Watchman Nee loved his hands more than he loved Jesus, he would have saved his hands and lost his witness, his reputation as a faithful servant.” There are many people today devoted to good causes but devotion to Christ is really Who we should be devoted to.
What to do: ! No one is asking that you lose your arms for Christ; God is simply asking that you use them for Christ.
HOW MAY I SERVE YOU?
! Bible Reading: Luke 22:47-53 Key Verse: Luke 22:51- “And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him.” Key Words: And he touched his ear, and healed him.
Jesus healed the Roman soldier’s ear; but He did more than heal, He served. Great things can be accomplished for God when we simply say to others, “Yes, I’ll serve you.” A young student from mainland China was sent to America to attend the University of Texas. This Communist youth got lost and confused in the Dallas airport. He approached several people and in his broken English asked, “Are you a Christian?” Several persons answered no, though they didn’t speak a word. Their actions spoke for them. He approached a businessman with the inquiry. Warmly, the executive responded, “Yes, how may I serve you?” The youth explained his confusion and need for aid in finding his way through the terminal to catch his flight to Austin. “Austin is my home. I am on my way there now. Come with me and I will help you,” said the new American friend. As they waited at the gate for their flight, the businessman inquired why he had been asked if he were a Christian. The student explained that an older friend from China had attended school at UT. Upon learning the youth was coming to America, he told him that if he had a need, to find a Christian and he would help him. The root of that help was even more specifically identified when the businessman invited the student to attend his church. The young Chinese later came to know Christ as his personal Savior simply because a Christian said, “Yes, how may I serve you?”
What to do: ! Everyday have the attitude of, “Yes, how may I serve you?”
It is possible to be so active in the service of Christ as to forget to love him. P. T. Forsyth
THE LAND OF WHERE I AM
! Bible Reading: Acts 8:26-40 Key Verse: Acts 8:26- “And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.” Key Words: Gaza, which is desert.
Joy is found in the land of “where I am.” It is His presence, not the place, which is important.
The “where I am” land offers no immunity from insult and injury. To serve and love others is to open yourself up to vulnerability.
C. S. Lewis wrote of this in his book entitled The Four
Loves: “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, of the and your heart will certainly be wrung out and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you Christian must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. life is Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; found in avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or service. coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, and airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable, and useless.”
Philip decided to be used of God in “the land of where I am” which happened to be a desert, a dry desert. But in the dry places of life, God used Philip because he was willing to be vulnerable.
Today, you don’t have to be a servant in the land of “where I am;” but in saying no to servanthood, you are saying yes to a life of darkness, motionlessness, airlessness, and uselessness. The joy of the Christian life is found in service.
What to do: ! Remember, the joy of the Christian life is found in service.
! Bible Reading: Luke 16:1-13 and John 12:26 Key Verse: Luke 16:10- “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.” Key Words: He that is faithful in that which is least
Jesus said of those who obey Him in faithful service, “Him will my Father honour” (John 12:26). This provision applies to time and eternity. Some years ago in Elko, Nevada, there lived a successful, young, cynical businessman. He was bitter, critical, and skeptical. One day a minister asked him, “Are you a Christian?” It angered John Randolph, but he could not forget the question or deny the awful negative answer. It led to his eventual conversion. As he and his wife grew in faithful service they studied the Bible. This prompted them to ask their pastor, “What is this we hear about the Bible teaching tithing?” Timorously, the pastor assured them it did. Randolph replied, “Very well, we’ll do it.” A second question, “Someone told us we are to witness to others. Are we?” Again the pastor swallowed deep and answered, “Yes.” “OK,” said Randolph, “we will.” Several such diagnostic questions regarding the Christian faith followed and John Randolph responded compliantly to each. Little wonder that a few years later when the pastor left that church, the Lord honored John Randolph by the people’s insisting that he become their pastor. Having been faithful in that which was least, the Lord made him responsible for that which was greater. The Father honored him.
What to do: ! Always remember that a faithful servant to God never goes unrewarded.
SLOTHFULNESS AND SERVICE OCTOBER 21 ! Bible Reading: Proverbs 13 Key Verse: Proverbs 13:4- “The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.” Key Words: The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing
Service and slothfulness do not go together; they are contrary one to the other.
Some of mankind’s greatest contributions have come from people who decided that no sacrifice was too large and no effort too great to accomplish what they set out to do. Edward Gibbon spent 26 years writing The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Noah Webster worked diligently for 36 years to bring into print the first edition of his dictionary. It is said the Roman orator Cicero practiced before friends every day for 30 years in order to perfect his public speaking. What stamina! What persistence! Now let’s think about how much energy we put into the Lord’s work. The comparison can be rather …we must embarrassing. And it should lead us to ask ourselves some heart-searching questions: why is our service for put some Christ sometimes performed in a halfhearted manner? effort into Why do some people who pursue earthly goals put us to shame with their diligence? Think of what happens our service. when we take lightly our service. A deacon neglects his responsibilities, and the interest of others declines. A Sunday School teacher prepares poorly, and his class fails to respond. A faithful churchgoer does not persevere in prayer, and he wonders why there are no answers. The point being if we expect to be successful, we must put some effort into our service.
What to do: ! Be diligent in your service to God.
THE SPIRIT OF A SERVANT: TEAMWORK
OCTOBER 22 ! Bible Reading: Philippians 2:1-13 Key Verse: Philippians 2:3- “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” Key Words: let each esteem other better than themselves
Lou Holtz, the former college football coach and now ESPN analyst, started his coaching career at the University of Minnesota. During his first year there, he distributed t-shirts with the word Team on the front. Underneath the word Team written in small letters was the word me. Holtz concluded that the minute the focus is ME then the team suffers. How true!
On July 20, 1969, the world watched as astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon. Who can forget the moment when Armstrong said, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”? What you may not be aware of is how many people were involved in getting Neil Armstrong to the moon. In all, there were 218,000 people working behind the scenes to make that moment in history possible. If a business, marriage, family – yes, even the church – is to thrive, it takes teamwork, all of us working “together” for God’s glory. So be a part of your church team and let’s all do our best for God’s glory!! It is certainly a great way to serve.
What to do: ! Be a part of your church “service” department.
OLD-FASHIONED SERVANTS OCTOBER 23 ! Bible Reading: Proverbs 22 Key Verse: Proverbs 22:28- “Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.” Key Words: Remove not the ancient landmark
Remember when gas was twenty-nine cents a gallon or when you could buy a soft drink for under a dime? Maybe you can remember when you could buy a threebedroom house for fourteen thousand dollars, or a brand new car for under two thousand dollars. Why, I even remember when doctors used to make house calls and milk was delivered to your door, postage stamps were three cents, and taxes were at a minimum. Some of you may remember when you went to bed at night and the doors were not only unlocked, but they were left open to let some cool air in the house. (There were no air conditioners, but what do you expect for fourteen thousand dollars?) Do you remember when lawn mowers had no motors, and mowers were propelled by man power? We call these the good ol’ days, but need I remind you that back then, in the good ol’ days, using God’s name in vain was not allowed in person or on television? Movies that promoted violence or rebellion or the rock music culture were not tolerated. Dress was modest and everyone, or just about everyone, went to church on Sunday. It was considered a special “holy” day. It’s interesting to me how our times have changed to fit our agenda and lifestyle. For example, we call them the good ol’ days when we talk about the price
of houses, cars, stamps, or soft drinks; but when you mention modesty and decency in dress, television, and movies, etc. they are no longer called the good ol’ days, we are called old- fashioned. Now, you can’t have it both ways – if the price of houses, cars, stamps, and soft drinks were the good ol’ days, then so it is with dress standards and decency. Maybe we just need to go back to the good ol’ days, for I would rather be called old-fashioned than worldly any day. How about you?
What to do: ! Dedicate yourself today to be an old-fashioned servant of God.
YOU CAN’T ARGUE WITH THAT
OCTOBER 24 ! Bible Reading: II Corinthians 5:10-21 Key Verse: II Corinthians 5:17- “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Key Words: he is a new creature
Dionysius, a pagan scholar who became a Christian and later was bishop of Alexandria from 247 to 269 A.D., wrote of the involvement of Christians during a plague. “Most of our brethren did not spare themselves and held together in the closest love of their neighbors. They were not afraid to visit the sick, to look after them well and to take care of them for Christ’s sake, and to die joyfully with them…but the heathen did exactly the opposite. They cast out any who began to be sick, deserted those who were dearest to them, threw the sick and half-dead into the streets, and left the dead unburied.”
Later one commentator wrote of the words of Dionysius, “When the life of the Christian group, is recognizably different from the life of the world outside, then no tricks are needed to attract people.”
Edgar A. Guest once wrote, “I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day; I’d rather one should walk with me than merely tell the way. The eye’s a better pupil and more willing than the ear, Fine counsel is confusing but example’s always clear.”
The world has yet to find a successful argument against the changed life of an obedient servant of Christ.
What to do: ! If you want to stop the world from criticizing Christians, be an obedient servant.
THE OBEDIENCE TEST
! Bible Reading: I Samuel 15:10-23 Key Verse: I Samuel 15:22- “And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” Key Words: to obey is better than sacrifice
We are quick to condemn the disobedience of Saul, but have you ever given any consideration to what I call the servant’s checklist? Let’s look at our own obedience for a moment. Consider the following. Have you presented your body as a living sacrifice today (Romans 12:1)? Do you think more highly of yourself than you ought (Romans 12:3)? Is your loyalty divided between God and mammon (Matthew 6:24)? Do you have a daily prayer life and Bible study (II Timothy 2:15)? Do you stir up strife and division (Romans 13:13)? Are you an ambassador for Christ each day (II Corinthians 5:19-20)? Are you honestly seeking first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33)? " " " " " "
The Word includes the following: Giving God the first hour of the day. Giving God the first day of the week. Giving God the first-fruits of your labor (tithes and offerings). Giving God first place in your decision-making. Giving God first place in your home.
I close by leaving you with this thought: one pessimist can pull down five optimists a lot easier than five optimists can lift up one pessimist. Many fail the obedience test because of who they listen to.
What to do: ! Take the test and then live it.
A SIMPLE SERVANT
! Bible Reading: I Timothy 4 Key Verse: I Timothy 4:12- “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” Key Words: but be thou an example
Alexander Whyte, who pastored in Scotland in the early 1900s, was preaching on Sunday morning when he noticed a celebrated scientist sitting in the congregation. He was thrilled when the next Sunday the scientist was back again. Pastor Whyte thought he would take advantage of his new listener, so he prepared a series of six sermons on “Religion & Science,” thinking to himself, “Surely he will come to know Christ as a result of these sermons.” Pastor Whyte worked long, hard, and carefully on each message proving conclusively that there was no real conflict between sound science and the Word of God. Nothing could have exceeded Pastor Whyte’s delight when the scientist came forward on Sunday morning proclaiming his faith in Jesus Christ. Pastor Whyte asked after the service, “And what sermon was it that God used to persuade you to accept Jesus as Savior?” “Oh,” said the scientist, “it wasn’t one of the sermons that persuaded me.” “Well, what did persuade you?” “As I was leaving the church one Sunday, a dear old grandmother asked me if I’d ever been saved. I replied, ‘No, but I am interested,’ and that day she showed me how to become a child of God, which I did. For you see, I saw a light in that little old lady that I desired, and praise the Lord, I received.” Alexander Whyte stood shocked and embarrassed over his lack of personally dealing with the scientist. It was then that he discovered a message lived is far better than one preached.
All of us should ask ourselves, are we a living message of the saving grace of Jesus?
What to do: ! Don’t just preach it, live it.
A DEVOUT SERVANT
OCTOBER 27 ! Bible Reading: Matthew 8:1-13 Key Verse: Matthew 8:9- “For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.” Key Words: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; As you read the story of the centurion, you find at least three main thoughts.
First of all, we see the centurion’s confession: “I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof (verse 8).” Secondly, the centurion gives us a comparison. He compares his authority with that of the Lord. Third of all, we see his comrades and their total obedience to him. The centurion states that, If I say go, they go; and if I say come, they come. They are devoted to me. Is that not true, though, of real servants? Are they not devoted to their master? The one thing that makes a servant great is his devotion to his master. John Kenneth Galbraith, in his autobiography, A Life in Our Times, illustrates the devotion of Emily Gloria Wilson, his family’s housekeeper: It had been a wearying day, and I asked Emily to hold all telephone calls while I had a nap. Shortly thereafter the phone rang. Lyndon Johnson was calling from the White House. “Get me Ken Galbraith. This is Lyndon Johnson.” “He is sleeping, Mr. President. He said not to disturb him.” “Well, wake him up. I want to talk to him.” “No, Mr. President. I work for him, not you.” When I called the President back, he could scarcely control his pleasure. “Tell that woman I want her here in the White House.” I wonder if the Lord says about us, “I want them as My servant.”
What to do: ! Be a servant that other servants admire.
! Bible Reading: Matthew 23:3,13-29 Key Verse: Matthew 23:3- “All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.” Key Words: for they say, and do not
In our Scripture readings for today, you find the word woe eight times. Out of those eight woe’s you find six acts of self-righteous hypocrisy: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.
verse 14: self-righteous prayer, verse 15: self-righteous soul-winning, verse 16: self-righteous words, verse 23: self-righteous giving, verses 25-27: self-righteous cleanliness, and verse 29: self-righteous works.
The fruit of self-righteous service always ends with emptiness. Self-righteousness comes through human effort. True service comes from a relationship with God. Self-righteous service is impressed with the “big deal.” True service finds it almost impossible to distinguish the small from the large service. Self-righteous service requires external rewards. True service rests contented in hiddenness. Self-righteous service is highly concerned about results. True service is free of the need to calculate results. Self-righteous service picks and chooses whom to serve. True service is indiscriminate in its ministry. Self-righteous service is affected by moods and whims. True service ministers simply and faithfully because there is a need. Self-righteous service is temporary. True service is a life-style.
I trust today that your service is a righteous God-honoring service. What to do: ! Ask God to reveal to you all of your unrighteous service.
! Bible Reading: I Samuel 15:1-9 Key Verse: I Samuel 15:9- “But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.” Key Words: But Saul
To ossify means to become bone hard. It is a synonym for being stubborn. Such people often respond by saying, “Don’t confuse me with the facts. I’ve already made up my mind.” Saul was obstinate; he wanted to conduct the operation his way. Even if he did have the noble intent of wanting belatedly to sacrifice the animals to God, that wasn’t what God wanted. For that reason Samuel reminded him that “to obey is better than sacrifice” (verse 22). What the Lord wants is obedience. God knew what was best. It would not be until the end of the story that Saul would realize this basic principle. Failure to listen and learn has crippled many people. Ego plays a big part in the life of an individual who refuses to be open to helpful insights and specific instructions. Samuel said, “Stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry” (verse 23). Stubbornness makes of one’s own self-will an idol to be obeyed rather than obeying the Lord and His will. Only as our will is yielded obediently to the will of our Master can we perform as obedient servants. He must always be the object of our veneration; the one we obey. Conscious disobedience is literally a form of idolatry, because it makes self-will, the human “I,” into a god. A cardinal sin of Christians is failure to be under authority to those God has placed over us. In every organization there has to be a chain of authority. Those under authority who act rebelliously or disrespectfully are resisting God, who ordered the structure. All things are to be done decently and in order. When God orders the order, honor it. No person should be in authority until they are under authority.
What to do: ! Remember, being a good servant means we should not be hardheaded or hard-hearted.
! Bible Reading: Psalm 126 Key Verse: Psalm 126:6- “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” Key Words: shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.
Buckner Fanning, a pastor from San Antonio, Texas, tells the following story: He and one of his deacons were returning from a retreat, one which the pastor felt was a real mountaintop experience. It had netted him numerous sermon ideas and notes for his preaching, but when he asked the deacon for his reaction, he got an honest answer that shook him up. “Yeah, Pastor, it was good,” the deacon began. “But I want to tell you that I’ve had all the inspiration I can stand. I’ve taken my last note. I’ve remembered my last point. I’ve been importing, and I am satiated. I have been receiving. I have been taking in.” The deacon concluded by warning that unless his church could give him a handle whereby he could translate some of that inspiration into practical deeds of Christianity, he was through! Merely inspiring the faithful without giving them an avenue of service is much like inflating the tires on a car that never goes anywhere. If a car stays parked in the garage all day, flat tires are just as good as inflated (inspired) tires! Without service, the Christian life goes on without a sense of fulfillment.
What to do: ! Decide today to be a servant, not just a sitter.
THE TEST OF A SERVANT
! Bible Reading: Matthew 7:7-20 Key Verse: Matthew 7:20- “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” Key Words: by their fruits ye shall know them.
I know this may sound like a strange devotion, but have you ever put your “servant’s heart” to the test? I mean a literal exam, a written test. No? Well, let’s do that today by answering the following questions.
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
Do you give of yourself? Yes _____ No _____ Do you consider the needs of others? Yes _____ No _____ Do you obey those who have the rule over you? Yes _____ No _____ Do you have integrity in all areas of life? Yes_____ No _____ Do you willingly submit yourself to regulations and rules? Yes _____ No _____ Do you faithfully fulfill little needs? Yes _____ No _____ Do you finish your task in a timely manner? Yes _____ No _____ Do you go the extra mile (do more than is required)? Yes _____ No _____ Are you dependable? Yes _____ No _____ Do you have a humble spirit? Yes _____ No _____
I realize some of these questions are difficult for us to answer about ourselves; but if you honestly evaluate your service, it will help you to become a better servant.
What to do: ! Honestly evaluate your service.
I deeply appreciate the help of Laurie Blankenship Trisha Bookout Kathy Endicott Cathy Fortenberry Sandy Lancaster Cathy Lang Pam Lee Marie Moore Mary Parsons John and Tascha Piatt Reba Pontbriand And my lovely wife, Linda
Without God using these people to help this devotional would not have been possible.
Dr. Mike Rouse