The Service of Passionate Devotion

Lovest thou Me? Feed My sheep. John 21:16.

Jesus did not say—Make converts to your way of thinking, but look after My sheep, see that they get nourished in the knowledge of Me. We count as service what we do in the way of Christian work; Jesus Christ calls service what we are to Him, not what we do for Him. Discipleship is based on devotion to Jesus Christ, not on adherence to a belief or a creed. “If any man come to Me and hate not …, he cannot be My disciple.” There is no argument and no compulsion, but simply—‘If you would be My disciple, you must be devoted to Me.’ A man touched by the Spirit of God suddenly says—‘Now I see Who Jesus is,’ and that is the source of devotion.
To-day we have substituted credal belief for personal belief, and that is why so many are devoted to causes and so few devoted to Jesus Christ. People do not want to be devoted to Jesus, but only to the cause He started. Jesus Christ is a source of deep offence to the educated mind of to-day that does not want Him in any other way than as a Comrade. Our Lord’s first obedience was to the will of His Father, not to the needs of men; the saving of men was the natural outcome of His obedience to the Father. If I am devoted to the cause of humanity only, I will soon be exhausted and come to the place where my love will falter; but if I love Jesus Christ personally and passionately, I can serve humanity though men treat me as a door-mat. The secret of a disciple’s life is devotion to Jesus Christ, and the characteristic of the life is its unobtrusiveness. It is like a corn of wheat, which falls into the ground and dies, but presently it will spring up and alter the whole landscape. (Cf. John 12:24.)

Chambers, O. (1986). My utmost for his highest: Selections for the year. Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering.

The Habit of Rising to the Occasion

 

That ye may know what is the hope of His calling … Eph. 1:18.

Remember what you are saved for—that the Son of God might be manifested in your mortal flesh. Bend the whole energy of your powers to realize your election as a child of God; rise to the occasion every time.
You cannot do anything for your salvation, but you must do something to manifest it, you must work out what God has worked in. Are you working it out with your tongue, and your brain and your nerves? If you are still the same miserable crosspatch, set on your own way, then it is a lie to say that God has saved and sanctified you.
God is the Master Engineer, He allows the difficulties to come in order to see if you can vault over them properly—“By my God have I leaped over a wall.” God will never shield you from any of the requirements of a son or daughter of His. Peter says—“Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you.” Rise to the occasion; do the thing. It does not matter how it hurts as long as it gives God the chance to manifest Himself in your mortal flesh.
May God not find the whine in us any more, but may He find us full of spiritual pluck and athleticism, ready to face anything He brings. We have to exercise ourselves in order that the Son of God may be manifested in our mortal flesh. God never has museums. The only aim of the life is that the Son of God may be manifested, and all dictation to God vanishes. Our Lord never dictated to His Father, and we are not here to dictate to God; we are here to submit to His will so that He may work through us what He wants. When we realize this, He will make us broken bread and poured-out wine to feed and nourish others.
Chambers, O. (1986). My utmost for his highest: Selections for the year. Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering.

Are You Refreshed?

The New Testament book, Philemon, is a book that is written by Paul to Philemon concerning a slave named, Onesimus. The book of Philemon consists of only twenty-five verses. It is interesting to note that the man, Philemon, was renowned for his ministry of refreshing. The word “refreshing” has the idea of “rest” and “restoration”. In verse 20, Paul writes, “Refresh my heart in Christ”. Paul’s refreshing from Philemon was based on Philemon receiving, giving freedom to and ministering to Onesimus.

Let us think about the words, “Refresh my heart in Christ”. How can we refresh our hearts, our spirit? What are you doing to receive refreshment in Christ? Our need for spiritual refreshing can be compared to our need for spring after a hard winter. During the winter months, the weather is cold, brutal, icy, snowy and rainy. During the winter months of our spiritual journey, we can find ourselves lacking spiritually.

Spring is a time for newness, a time for a new kind of weather, new colors and even a new outlook. Let’s consider ways that we can “refresh our spirit”, so that we can experience a time of newness in our lives.

-We should understand that we need Jesus. He is holy and we are sinners. When we are faithful to acknowledge our sinfulness to God, we are able to receive forgiveness and restoration.

-We should be mindful of the words we speak. The spoken word is powerful. Our instinct is too often to speak of everything we know. Talking too much, too quick and too cleverly is destructive to the spirit. When we speak, let us follow the instruction of the Psalmist, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).

-We should prepare for each day. We need to be mindful that our days are with purpose. God has a plan and purpose for each of us. Therefore, we should prepare to spend time in His Word, in prayer and in service for Him. We should also prepare to take time to bless those around us.

-We should put our hands to work. We should participate in the common chores around the house. Embrace the simple things in life by taking out the garbage, washing the dishes, working in the flower beds, mowing the lawn, etc. In doing such work, we are able to embrace genuine humility.

-We should get rest. Take time to enjoy your journey. Rather than having every minute planned, give yourself a break. Take a trip, go for a walk, go fishing, go to the park—get some rest. When we are rested, we can be much more attentive in the presence of God.

As we seek to be “refreshed”, take note of the newness of spring in your life. Refresh your heart in Christ!

Woody

Shall We Dance?

I am in the process of going on a new adventure—beekeeping. Yes, that’s right, beekeeping. My goal is to have one or two hives of bees in my backyard. In preparation, I have identified the location in my yard, I have secured most of the pieces of the hive box and hopefully in a couple of weeks I will get my first “nuc”, which consists of a queen and several thousand bees. I have attended a couple beekeeping meetings and purchased a book that details beekeeping. Beekeeping in the backyard improves pollination and hopefully will reward me with a harvest of delicious honey.

Beehives consist of a queen, drones and worker bees. Each of them is very unique in what they do, but in my attempt to learn about beekeeping, I learned something so interesting about the bees–they know how to communicate. One of the ways that they communicate is through choreography. That’s right, they dance! The foraging worker bees dance when they return to the hive with news of nectar, pollen, or water. The worker bees dance on the comb using precise patterns. Depending on the style of dance, a variety of information is shared with the other honey bees. By this dance, they are able to obtain accurate information about the location and the type of food that has been located.

They will do a round dance or a waggle dance. The round dance communicates that the food source is within 10-80 yards of the hive. If the food source is a greater distance, the worker performs a waggle dance. This dance involves shivering side-to-side, while forming a figure eight. The vigor of the waggle, the number of times it is repeated, the direction of the dance and the sound the bee makes communicates precise information about the location of the food source. The bees even offer the recruits a taste of the goodies that they have brought back to the hive.

We who have been to Jesus, have experienced His grace, tasted of His goodness, received His mercy, and experienced His love—let us take note from the bees. We must go to those around us, communicate to them that we have found the Source of life—Jesus. We need to share Him and point others to Him so that they may experience a life filled with the sweet nectar of God’s love and grace.

Woody

Who Are We to Please?

Have you ever been guilty of being a “people pleaser’? I am sure that we have all struggled with pleasing people at one time or another. The apostle Paul was once a people pleaser.  His desire at one time in his life was to learn all he could of the sect of the Pharisees. He set at the feet of Gamaliel and desired to know the traditions of the Jews so that he could please men. He was totally against Christians. But, God saved him and from that time on, he didn’t care about pleasing people. Many people fight against God, because when God saves people, they can no longer be people pleasers.

As we consider the issue of pleasing people, let’s answer a couple of questions. The first question: “Is it wrong to be a people pleaser?” Answer: Primarily, our goal should be to please God, because He commands us to love Him first and then to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. So, it’s not wrong to please others if God is pleased.

The next question is: “When is it wrong to be a people-pleaser?”

When you act different based on the crowd—this is so easy to do but it is not right. If we are not focused, we will act and speak according to who we are with. We should strive to act the same regardless of those around us. By doing so, we are being true to ourselves.

When it is because of insecurity –people often act different so that others will like them. We need to be true to ourselves, being who we really are. If we act a certain way just for others to like us, most likely the relationship will not last. In other words, don’t compromise the truth in order to score points that really don’t matter.

When you remain silent when you should be speaking up- this is so easy to do as well. Rather than speaking up against something that is not right or standing up for someone who is being bashed, it is easier to keep quiet. However, we should be willing to speak the truth and do so in a spirit of love rather than trying to be a people pleaser. I am convinced that there are times, even when it is uncomfortable, that we need to speak up.

-When it causes you to be ashamed of Jesus- We read in Mark 8:38-“Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” Our desire to please others should never outweigh our love and obedience to Christ.

When it causes others to stumble- we need to remember that others are watching us live out our life. Our lives are not lived in secret. Could it be that in our attempt to please one person, we are actually causing many to stumble?

There are times that we need to do all that we can to please others. Spouses should strive to please one another, children should desire to please their parents, friends should desire to please their friends and employees should work to please their employers. However, our desire to please others should not be at the expense of being a living testimony for Jesus Christ.

Woody

A Friend

Would you consider yourself to be a friend? Do you have people in your life that you would call your friend? You may be wondering what it means to be a friend. A friend is a person with whom you can be yourself. That’s right, you can be yourself. A friend doesn’t expect you to be better or worse and when you are with a friend, you don’t have to put up your guard. A friend is a person who understands you and allows you to laugh with them, cry with them, sing with them and they are willing to tolerate you through all of your downfalls. I guess you could sum up a friend as one who sees who you really are and they still love you. Henry Durbanville said that a friend is the “first person who comes in when the whole world goes out”.

The following questions were posed to a group of people in an attempt to help them identify true friends. Who are the five wealthiest people in the world? Who won the last five Heisman trophies? Who are ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize? Who won the last ten World Series? After thinking about the above questions and realizing they didn’t know the answers, the following questions were asked to the group. Who is the teacher who aided you during your school journey? Who are three people who have come to your side during difficult times? Who are five people who have taught you something worthwhile? Who are five people who make you feel special? Who are the people you enjoy spending time with? The people who are making the difference in your life are those who care about you. In other words, you are important to them. Likewise, the people that you care for are the people with whom you are making a difference.

To enhance your friendship with others, you should be committed to the friendship. You should always express your appreciation to your friends by your words and actions. People need to feel appreciated. You should keep your conversations positive even when you have to speak words that may seem hard. Also, value the time that you spend together. Your time may not be just about your needs. Your time spent with others should make an everlasting difference in their lives. You should also be sure to encourage your friends on their spiritual journey. Spend time praying with them and for them, spend time sharing with them and worshipping with them. These are a just few simple guidelines that will help us be a true friend.

“There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).

Woody

What’s In Your Hand?

What do you have in your hand? As you are now looking at your hands, you are probably wondering why I would ask such a question. Sometimes it may be necessary to actually look at what we are holding in our hands, but I would suggest that you look a bit further than your hands. Another way of asking the question would be to ask, “What has God already given to you?” Instead of focusing on what you don’t have or comparing yourself with others, look at what you already have.

I love to read the story in Scripture when God called Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Immediately, Moses started making excuses that he was not the man and the people wouldn’t listen to him anyway. Moses was holding a rod, a shepherd’s staff, in his hand and the Lord asked him, “What’s in your hand?” Next, God told him to throw it on the ground. He did and the staff became a snake. My response would have probably been that of Moses, he fled away from the snake. The Lord then told him to take hold of it by its tail. Moses obeyed and the snake became a staff again. The Lord wanted Moses to understand that regardless of his supposed limitations, God was with him.

Many of us, like Moses, tend to focus on what we don’t have rather than on what we do have. Maybe that is where your focus is today. Your life is being driven by unrealistic limitations that you have placed on God and yourself. Once again, I want to ask you, “What’s in your hand?”

Maybe you are thinking that your life would be better if you had more money, better car, more time, another job, bigger house, lived in another city—the list could go on and on.

Rather than waiting to get what you think you need, what if you started noticing what you already have. Look at the potential that already exists in your life. Do you have money? Spend it wisely! Do you have a job? Give thanks to God for it and do your best! Do you have love? Start showing your love to others! Do you have a smile? Start smiling! Do you have a good word? Start speaking into the lives of others! Do you have kindness? Start being kind to others! Do you have children? Start spending quality time with them! Do you have a house? Start inviting others in for a visit! The list could go on and on.

Don’t let your life be limited by what you think you don’t have. Take note of “What you already have in your hand.”

Blessings,

Woody