Tag Archives: serving others

A Life Of Love

Several years ago I was attending the Catalyst conference. Bob Goff was one of the speakers. When he finished his part, he gave each of us a copy of his book “Love Does”. It’s a collection of stories from his life where he decided to love people and say yes to their requests. It turns out when you look at each interaction as God opening a door for you, you’ll live an adventurous life. Because God loves people, Bob loves people. In this book he shares some incredible ways he has shown love to others and the impact it has had on them. I laughed out loud throughout the book. I also was brought to tears several times. Most importantly, it challenged me to dig deeper to find ways to show love.

If you’ve ever been to a wedding, you’ve probably heard 1 Corinthians 13 read. However, Paul didn’t write that chapter for married couples. He wrote it to believers on the importance of loving your neighbor in the context of spiritual gifts. Verse 1 reads, “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love [for others growing out of God’s love for me], then I have become only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal [just an annoying distraction]” (AMP). God has given each of us spiritual gifts to edify and to love. Our world needs us to love them the way God loves them. Instead we’re guilty of seeing our differences and allowing those to divide us. We need to remember verse 5. It says, “It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured.” Loving others God’s way looks like this.

In John 13:34, Jesus says, “I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too are to love one another.” The word for love that Jesus and Paul used in these is agape. This word isn’t referring to a love based out of emotion. It a love that does things for the benefit of another person while seeking the best for them regardless of you you feel. That’s the kind of love God calls you and I to. If we can’t or won’t love others extraordinarily with that kind of love, Paul said our lives will sound like a clanging cymbal causing a distraction rather than a sweet sound that brings music to people’s ears. Jesus didn’t ask us to live this way. He commanded it. There’s a difference there, and if we want to make a difference, it starts with living a life of love.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

If you’d like to read my thoughts on “Love Does”, I wrote about it here.

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The Heart Of A Servant

God put something inside of us that makes us feel good when we’re treated as an important person. Have you ever been the guest of honor before? Or been the most important person in the room? Or treated like royalty when you’ve visited somewhere? When something like that happens, we often say, “I could get used to this!” It’s a natural response to feel that way. What isn’t natural is to be in a moment or place like that, then excuse yourself from being the center of attention to plunging toilets. Most of us would ask someone else to do it so we wouldn’t mess up our clothes or stop the doting on us. However, that’s the example Jesus gave us to follow.

On the night before the Passover, which was a foreshadowing of what Jesus was about to do, He and the disciples were having dinner. John 13:3 says, “Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God” (NLT). He had all authority in the universe in this moment. He knew He was heading back home, yet He noticed no one had washed their feet as was the custom. Instead of telling someone to call a servant or instead of asking a disciple to wash the feet, He did it. Verses 4-5 say, “So He got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel He had around him.”

Doug Stringer, a ministry friend at Somebody Cares, says, “While men reach for thrones to build their own kingdom, Jesus reached for a towel to wash men’s feet.” When Jesus reached the moment His whole life had been pointing to, and had been given all authority, He showed us what to reach for. He denied the pride that lives within all of us and reached for the towel of humility. He served those He was about to die for, including Judas. The example Jesus gives is what He said over and over. If you want to be great in His kingdom, you must reach for a towel and serve. While it feels good to be the center of attention, and to have our ego stroked, it’s eternally better to have the heart of a servant.

Photo by Danique Tersmette on Unsplash

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The Seeds Of Good Deeds

When you think of Christians who are known for their good deeds, Mother Teresa usually tops the list. She is someone who gave her life to those who were less fortunate than herself. While she is certainly the most famous, she’s not the only Christian to be known for her good deeds. In fact, each of us should be doing things for others, not as a requirement for salvation, but as a fruit of it. Giving to others should spring out of our love for God.

When I look at my own circle of friends, I’ve got friends who care for orphans, feed the homeless, provide disaster relief around the world, are surrogate mothers for those who can’t have children, run foster homes, who give money sacrificially, are missionaries and so much more. Jesus said we would be known for our love and our fruit. To do good deeds, you don’t have to do big things that change the world. Just do something that changes the world for one person at a time.

Romans 7:4 says, “And now you are united with the one who was raised from the dead. As a result, we can produce a harvest of good deeds for God” (NLT). When we become Christians, each of us are capable of producing a harvest of good deeds. The only way to get any harvest is by planting seeds. Look around you today. See where you can plant seeds of God’s love in other people’s lives through a good deed. This world needs to see more of God’s love, and you and I are the ones He’s called to do it.

Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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Serving Others Better

Imagine this scene. You’re in the kitchen trying to cook dinner. You have one child asking you for help with homework. Another child is in the high chair crying wanting something to eat because they just dumped their bowl of food on the floor. The TV is on and it’s turned up loud. Your phone then starts ringing. Just then you have a friend walk in. They survey all that’s going on, give a chuckle, sit down on the couch and ask when dinner is going to be ready. Can you imagine how that would make you feel? How would that change if your friend walked in, surveyed the situation and started helping? What if they picked up the spilled dinner and started to feed the baby to stop the crying? Even though they are a guest, you would be grateful to have them jump in and help.

Unfortunately, many of us are like the friend who comes in, sees everything going on at your church and sits down. Why would you help? You’re a guest, not a staff member. You can see there are things that need to be done, but it’s not your job. You’re there to get fed. The disciples had a similar mentality on the night of the Last Supper. A couple went ahead to prepare everything while the rest showed up expecting to just eat. However, they forgot one important detail. They forgot to get someone to wash everyone’s feet. Everyone was aware of the mistake, but no one did anything. They were arguing over who was the greatest instead. It was at that time that Jesus took off his outer garment, put on an apron and grabbed a towel. He saw what needed to be done, even though He had a lot on His mind that He needed to say, He washed their feet.

Having been at that dinner, Peter wrote 1 Peter 5:5 that says, “And all of you must put on the apron of humility, to serve one another; for the scripture says, ‘God resists the proud, but shows favor to the humble’” (GNT). Peter makes no exceptions in this verse. “All of you must put on the apron of humility.” None of us are above serving or helping others at home, at church or wherever you go. People all around us need help, but we have to lose the me first mentality if we’re going to serve others like Jesus. He knew that Judas would betray Him that night, yet He washed his feet and served Him dinner anyway. That is our example of putting on the apron of humility. It’s not about us or how uncomfortable we feel. It’s about showing the love of Christ to those who least deserve it because it was shown to us when we least deserved it. We must learn to serve others better if we’re going to be more Christlike.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

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The Apron Of Humility

Several years ago, our area was hit by Hurricane Ike. Our electricity was out for over two weeks. Because of the work I do, I had to go to work anyway to help customers. A couple of days after the storm hit, the CEO of this Fortune 15 company flew down here. Each day, he put aside his tie, put on our uniform, and got behind a computer to help customers at one of our stores. When regular customers didn’t recognize him, they’d ask who he was. When he told them, no one believed him. He had to pull out his business card to prove it. Even then, there were skeptics.

To me, that’s a lot like what Jesus did. When the world was dark and powerless, Jesus left Heaven to come to earth to help us. He put aside His Heavenly body to take on the form of a man. He walked among us to help us. Many did not recognize Him nor believe He was who He said He was. When He proved it by doing things only God could do, they were still skeptical. Even though there were doubters, He continued to do the work that He was sent to do

Philippians 2:5-8 tells us exactly that, “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross” (NLT). What it says first is very important. We should have that same attitude.

We should never be above doing any work in the Kingdom. There is no position high enough or level of spiritualness that you can attain where you don’t have to get down in the trenches and serve like everyone else. Jesus was still exhibiting the qualities of a servant the night before He completed His mission on earth. He made it clear He was the Messiah, the Son of God, and yet He served others. John 13:4 says, “So He got up from the supper table, set aside His robe, and put on an apron” (MSG). He took off the robe that signified His greatness and position, to put on what the lowest ranking person wears in order to serve.

Christianity is not about becoming a great and powerful leader. It’s about becoming an humble servant. It’s following the example of the One who gave up all authority in Heaven and earth to wash the feet of others. It’s about meeting people where they are so they can see what God’s love is like. If the CEO of Heaven took off His robe to put on an apron and serve, we should put aside our pride and follow His example of serving others. Wearing the apron was an outward example of the position of His heart. If you feel you’re above putting on the apron of humility, pray that God would give you the same attitude Christ Jesus had.

Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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A Useless Life

Have you ever considered what your epitaph might say? There are some pretty unique ones out there. There are some funny ones like Merv Griffin’s that says, “I will not be right back after this message.” Others are more sentimental expressing love for family. Some denote anger because they felt abandoned in their final days by those they loved. Epitaphs can be as unique as the individual, but one epitaph I have never seen reads, “Here lies a person who lived a useless life.” The truth is that what’s not done for eternity and others is often useless. The last thing I would ever want is to have lived my life only to get to Heaven and find out my life had been useless for God’s Kingdom.

The book of Titus is not a book most of us know well. However, in it Paul gives instructions on the importance of discipleship and teaching others how to live for God. In his closing statements, in Titus 3:14, Paul writes, “Our people must learn to spend their time doing good, in order to provide for real needs; they should not live useless lives” (GNT). One translation says, “unproductive lives.” God’s idea of a productive and useful life is one that helps others find Him, provides for the needs of others and brings people into a mature faith. I know that doesn’t encompass all of it, but Paul’s message to Titus was that he should be doing these things and helping other believers to do them as well.

1 Corinthians 3:13 says, “And the quality of each person’s work will be seen when the Day of Christ exposes it. For on that Day fire will reveal everyone’s work; the fire will test it and show its real quality.” That Fire will reveal whether we lived useful or useless lives. Every one of us will stand before Jesus on that day with our lives and the things we did presented to Him as an offering. Will the things you’re doing now survive that fire? We must live our lives with that fire in mind. There’s an old poem by C.T. Studd that reminds us, “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.” If you haven’t been living with the end in mind, you can start today and still have an offering that will survive that fire and show your life wasn’t useless.

Photo by Scott Rodgerson on Unsplash

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A Well Lived Life

Over twenty years ago, “Saving Private Ryan” came out in theaters. It starts off at the Battle of Normandy and is one of the few movies that captures the reality of that day. A group of men are sent to find Private Ryan because both of his brothers had been killed in action and the government deemed it too great a cost for one family to lose all their sons. At the end of the movie, you see an older Private Ryan standing in Arlington National Cemetery speaking to a grave. He said, “To be honest with you, i wasn’t sure how I’d feel coming back here. Every day I think about what you said to me on the bridge (“Earn this”). I tried to live my life the best that I could. I hope that was enough. I hope that, at least in your eyes, I’ve earned what all of you have done for me.”

It’s a very moving scene where a man reflects on his life hoping that he lived it well in response to others paying the ultimate sacrifice so he could live. I can’t help but to put myself in his place thinking about Jesus paying the ultimate sacrifice for my sins. At the end of my life, will I be able to say, “Lord, I gave it my all in response to what you did for me”? Does His death on the cross motivate me, or you, to live our lives to the fullest or are we merely existing going through life without trying? Are we willing to risk it all for Him or are we playing it safe hoping to arrive at Heaven having done nothing for Him? Philippians 3:12 says, “I keep striving to win the prize” (GNT). Paul never took his foot off the gas pressing onward in response to what Jesus did.

Proverbs 15:9 puts it, “A life frittered away disgusts GOD; he loves those who run straight for the finish line” (MSG). God delights in us living our lives intentionally, not to try to earn salvation, but to show our love for Him. Each of us have one life to live, so live it to the best of your ability. Don’t waste your life just trying to make it through each week. Do something with it. Give yourself to serving others. Support people who give up everything to share the Gospel. Find out the name of an orphan and show them the love of the Father. Make your life matter. Life is not about becoming rich and famous. It’s about fulfilling what God created you for. Your life has purpose. Don’t fritter away the talents God gave you. Live life to the fullest.

Photo by Andrea Leopardi on Unsplash

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Active Duty

When God spoke to us about changing churches, we weren’t happy about it. At the new church we would come in late and leave early to avoid connecting with people. We did this for about nine months. Then the pastor reached out and wanted to go to lunch. At the lunch, he said, “I want you to know that I know you’re in our church. If you’re here to heal and want to move on, that’s fine. If you’re only here temporarily and want to move to another church, I can help you find one. If you’re going to stay here, let me know when you’re ready to get engaged. Whatever you and God decide, I’ll support.”

It was very impactful for me because he wasn’t just acknowledging I was there. He was calling me off of the sidelines and telling me that wherever I went I was going to have to get active again. When I was ready to get active again, I let him know. He had me meet with the executive pastor to see where I would fit best. He said, “We have a lot of places we could plug you into, but we want to find the right fit for you.” We met several times before finding a place. They were putting 1 Thessalonians 5:14 into practice.

It says, “We appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, to instruct those who are not in their place of battle. Be skilled at gently encouraging those who feel themselves inadequate. Be faithful to stand your ground. Help the weak to stand again. Be quick to demonstrate patience with everyone” (TPT). Each of us have a place on the battlefield with a job to do. At times, every one of us will feel inadequate and we need help standing. If you’re there now, surround yourself with those who will help you. If you see someone else in that place, reach out and help them. We are to help each other reach our potential and to do our part in the Kingdom work.

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Selfie Check

A few weeks ago I was talking with a coworker how things have changed over time. One of the things we were talking about was how if you want to get recognized, you have to be a self promoter. Unless you are constantly taking selfies and posting them at work, telling everyone what you’re doing, no one will notice your hard work. Social media has not only impacted how businesses advertise, it’s also changed how they recognize a job well done internally. If you want to get promoted to a better position, you have to be a self promoter. It’s the opposite of how I was raised, You can’t just put your head down and work hard to get recognition anymore.

I’m not saying it’s wrong or it’s right. That’s just the world we live in now. When it comes to our Christianity, we can’t let that culture influence us because it’s opposite of Biblical teaching. God still resists the proud and lifts up the humble. The left hand doesn’t need to know what the right hand is doing according to Jesus. There’s a fine line between letting others know your need and showing them the fruit of your ministry and just showing off what you are doing for the recognition of man. One way to know what side of the line you’re on is how you view those you’re ministering to. How do you view them?

Philippians 2:3 says, “Don’t allow self-promotion to hide in your hearts, but in authentic humility put others first and view others as more important than yourselves” (TPT). When we care for people because we feel we’re better than they are and they need our help, it’s self promotion. When we put them first and serve them out of compassion, it’s ministry. We want to make sure our hearts are pure and that we don’t fall victim to the self promotion culture when it comes to ministry. If you’re doing it for self promotion, you have your reward, but if you’re doing it for the Lord, your reward is in Heaven.

Photo by Steve Gale on Unsplash

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To Love God

In Matthew 9, Jesus was at the home of Matthew eating with some unsavory people. The top religious leaders saw him dining with them and asked, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?” (NLT) They asked it loud enough that Jesus heard them, which meant that Matthew and his friends heard it too. Jesus said, “Heathy people don’t need a doctor – sick people do.” Then he challenged them to go and find the meaning of the scripture that says, “I desire mercy [that is, readiness to help those in trouble] and not sacrifice and sacrificial victims. For I came not to call and invite [to repentance] the righteous (those who are upright and in right standing with God), but sinners (the erring ones and all those not free from sin)” (AMP).

I figured if Jesus wanted them to find the meaning, He probably wanted us to find the meaning as well. The original passage is found in Hosea 6:6. It says, “I want your constant love, not your animal sacrifices. I would rather have my people know me than burn offerings to me” (GNB). The first thing God wants from any of us is an unconditional, constant love. A couple of verses back, He says that His children’s love vanishes as quickly as the morning dew. The kind of love that irritates God is the conditional kind that depends on what He does.

God loves you no matter what you do, and He expects the same. Jesus was upset with the Pharisees because they claimed to be the holy ones in Israel, but inside they were anything but holy. When His actions didn’t meet up with their expectations of the Messiah, their love and wonder waned. What Jesus was pointing out to them in the Scripture He sent them to was that they really didn’t know God, and He would rather they know Him instead of knowing what the Law said.

We have to be careful of the same trap they fell into. We cannot let our love for God depend on expectations we have of Him when we don’t fully know Him. God knows that the more we know Him, the more we love Him. The more we love Him, the more we will have a readiness to help those in spiritual danger. They are the ones who need our help the most. Jesus knew it, and He wanted us to know it too. The heart of God beats for the lost, and He’ll do what it takes to reach them, even if it doesn’t make sense to others. When we truly know Him, our heart will beat for the lost like His.

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