Sunday, January 29, 2017

in service or at a service

I was sick one Sunday and had to miss church. When my husband got home I asked, “How was the service?”  He, of course, replied and told me it was good and what had occurred.  As I was thinking about it, I thought about the question I had asked and what service really means as a Christian.  It struck me that the church has become very concerned with the service but not with being in service to God.   We often fuss and worry over how a service will go.  Should that be our main goal? 

A service, or meeting together, to worship God, encourage one another, lift up the body of Christ, etc. while very important, should not be our sole concern.  I do believe we should come together and we should bring our best to present to the Lord. We should be prepared for worship and for the edifying of the body, but our service is not just to gather once or  twice a week.  Our main service for God should be our daily witness and how we live.

We are to be in service (verb), in action for God, not just showing up for a service, (noun).  We are to be doers of the word and not hearers only. We are to be busy for the kingdom of God, not just a bystander or partaker in the blessings. We are to be living our daily lives in a manner that glorifies God. We are to be studying to show ourselves approved, rightly dividing the word (2 Timothy 2:15); praying without ceasing (I Thessalonians 5:17); and fasting (Matthew 17:21) to bring our flesh under subjection. We have a command to go forth and preach the gospel.  We are to love one another.(I John 4:7-8) We are to be obedient to the Word of God. We are to let it permeate our daily lives, inside out and upside down. We are to be completely and fully given to God.

Service means we are being used and useful. Service means we are providing and supplying aids or services, not just attending a religious occasion.   My husband was in the military, or as many describe it, in the service. While in the service, he was required to live, eat and breath being a Marine. He entered the service and was stripped of all personal identity, then retrained to provide service without delay, without hesitation, when told. He followed orders daily, from the time he woke up, to the time he laid down, his sole purpose was to obey the orders given. He was completely given to the service of the country. He did not show up once a week to a duty, but he was daily involved in providing for the protection of the country. He was in service, not just attending a service.

Spiritually, we are to be in service, not just at a service. Daily, we are to serve the Lord with gladness, come before His presence with singing (Psalm 100:2) , from the time we wake, until the time we lay to rest. We are to be about the business of serving God by our actions, our thoughts, our words, our deeds. (Colossians 3:17) We are to be speaking life into those around us. We are to be calling on the name of the Lord for healing and deliverance for those who have need. We are to see the hurting and the wounded and act on their behalf. We are to be the body of Christ reaching the dying and lost. We are to speak the word of God and bring hope to this world. We are to serve and love others. (Mark 16:15)

Yes, that even means when we come together for a service. Yes, we are not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. (Hebrews 10:25) We are to come together with our brothers and sisters in Christ so we can edify one another, lift up the name of Christ and find strength to continue in service. We are to come together to pray and bear one another’s burdens. (Galatians 6:2) We are to come together and worship the Lord.
This should just be a part of our service, not our only service.

So, I guess from now on, I will need to ask, not "How was the service?" but, "How did I serve today?" Did I serve God or anyone else today?  Did I obey God and do His commands?  Did I provide and serve for the needs of others? Was I the hands and feet of God reaching for the lost?  Did my words, deeds and thoughts bring glory to my God?

Lord help me to be in service for you and not just at a service.  Help me be completely devoted and given to your service, daily. Permeate my being and use me for your Kingdom.

even when it seems worse

I was reading through Exodus and I realized a great important lesson. As Moses went to Egypt to obey the Lord and lead the Israelites out, some interesting things happened. He was sent by God after an experience of talking to God in a burning bush. God gave him direction and specific guidance in what he was to say and do. He explained that the deliverance of Israel was going to be a process that not only brought deliverance, but also brought punishment to Egypt for wickedness.

Moses went to Egypt and presented himself to Pharaoh with the request of letting the Israelite people go to sacrifice and worship their God. Pharaoh's response in Exodus 5:2 was "Who is this Lord, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go."  Pharaoh refused the request, then turned around and increased the labor of the Israelites. He gave instructions that the straw was no longer supplied to the Israelite slaves, but they must gather the straw as well as meet the same quota of bricks they already must meet. When they asked why this happened, he called them lazy. The Israelites realized they were in trouble and immediately found Moses and Aaron. They basically were angry with Moses and blamed him for making things much worse than they already were. When Moses talked to God about this. God said, "Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country."(Exodus 6:1)  God declared, "I am the Lord." (verse 2) This was followed by many conversations with Pharaoh, the 10 plagues and ultimately, the word of God becoming true as Pharaoh drove them out of Egypt. God kept His word in a mighty, miraculous victory that would never have been without His intervening.

I realized this is a spiritual principle taking place.  We often ask God for deliverances and make our requests known. but we cry out and often complain when things appear to get worse.  How many times have we made a request to God, and instead of seeing an answer right away, the situation seems to worsen?  We can make an important choice in this situation: we can continue on in faith and trust in God, or we can cry, complain and give up.  So many times, I think I have forgotten the faithfulness of God and have given up too soon.  God is making things happen that I cannot see. He may be preparing me for one of the great victories that only could happen with his deliverance, and I can't see past my circumstances. While the people thought it was getting worse, Moses obeyed God and trusted that God would do what he said. He did not give up, he kept pressing onward. He kept speaking the word that God gave him. He kept declaring the promises of God for deliverance. He pushed forward in the face of everyone else doubting and complaining. He lead the people to victory.

Sometimes, we face difficulties that seem to increase. Sometimes, circumstances grow and become ever more burdensome, just so God can say, "Now you will see what I will do."  Sometimes, victory comes through waiting on God to do what He said he will do.  He is faithful and He is good. He does not fail.  We do. When we let our faith waver in the face of growing distraction, fear, and get our eyes off of God, we fail.  We may even lose out on a great victory that God was setting up for us. He knows more than we know. He is working on  our behalf and his ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than ours. (Isaiah 55:9) We may not see the big picture when we are bogged down in the middle of a situation. He does and he knows what we have need of.

So I see how sometimes, we may only think things are getting worse, but it is really God bringing about a greater miracle than we could ever dream. He is working to bring about good things for us. He is working to bring about blessings in our lives. He is working to give us an even greater testimony of His goodness and power. We need to trust in Him and believe that He is good and we have no reason to doubt or fear, for what he is doing is for our good. We may not understand it in the moment, and it may bring about those who may ridicule, laugh, and call us crazy, but when we trust in God, He will do what he says he will do.  He will be faithful.  Do not give up, even when it seems hope is running the other way.  Do not give up, for God is working on your side. He will bring victory and deliverance like only He can do. He will bring forth mighty miracles that will bring us to know that He is the Lord. He will perform His word. We will be able to declare that He is the Lord!

Hebrews 10:36  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

Psalms 111:7 The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy.

If you are facing a situation that seems to only get worse, don't give up, for God's mighty hand is moving to bring forth deliverance. He is able and He will do what He said He will do. He is Lord!

Sunday, January 15, 2017


As I was making grits for breakfast for the family, I began to think about how the grits are made. In the box, they are dry, but I guess you could say they are good and you could try to eat them, but they become really good to eat once they have been immersed into boiling hot water.  Cold water doesn't suffice.  It must be hot.  I know we generally think about baptism when we say the word immersed, but it can mean immersing yourself in your work or into your area of interest. Its to be completely absorbed in something.  We are often absorbed by sports, crafts, activities, work, family,  or whatever keeps us busy and interested. Now, these things may not be bad in and of themselves, but are we taking time to become immersed in reading the Word of God, in obeying His call or His guidance?  The word immersed is a verb and according to the dictionary means:

1. to plunge into or place under a liquid; dip; sink. involve deeply; absorb: baptize by immersion.
4. to embed; bury.
Wow, that is cool.  I found my thoughts going to how we can be good, we can be doing things that seem right and know how to act right, but until we are immersed in the Spirit of God and His Word, we really cannot be really effective in what we need to be for God. 
Revelations 3:15-16 says:
15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

God wants us to be heated up and passionate about Him. He wants us to be immersed in His Will. In 2 Kings chapter 5 we can read about Naaman, who had leprosy. He was told by Elisha to go dip seven times in the river Jordan.  Once Naaman was convinced to go ahead and go dip in the muddy, dirty river, he did and was healed. If he hadn't immersed himself completely and fully in obeying Elisha, he would not have received his healing.  We can read about the Apostle Paul and the other disciples who risked life and limb, were beaten, boiled in oil, and eventually killed for the preaching the gospel. They were sold out and fully immersed in the obedience to the Word of God.  

When we become fully immersed, we become who God has intended us to be.  The grits in the boiling water become softer and delicious.  When we become immersed in the Word and Spirit of God, we also become softer. We become more sensitive to the hearing the voice of God, to seeking His will and to obedience of his guidance. We become more like Him. We become flavorful. Matthew 5:13 says: Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
We are the salt of the earth. We season, we preserve, we cannot lose our savour. 

We need to be fully immersed in the Word and Spirit of God.  Paul stated in Philippians 3:7-9:
But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

There is much to gain when we fully immerse ourselves in the power of God and allow His Spirit to operate in us.  We can be effective in the area of our calling, in being an example of the believers, in our prayer life, in our living for Christ. I want to be effective. I want to be immersed in God. I want to be hot and fervent for the cause of Christ.  I want to be in His will.  I want to run toward Him, full force and reach the prize. 

I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:14


Friday, January 6, 2017

holy, holy, holy

Last Sunday, I was privileged to get to teach the toddler class. I know many think this is just babysitting or maybe even unimportant, but I see it as a chance to teach them some foundation and truths about who God is. The lesson in the curriculum was about heaven and how amazing it will be. After getting snacks and some playtime, I started the lesson and began describing heaven to these little ones.  I began describing how the angels cry, "Holy, Holy, Holy!"  I demonstrated how we will all join in and began raising my arms and saying, "Holy, Holy Holy!"  I began to feel the presence of God sweep through the room. Those little faces were just looking and and watching. One raised her little hands as well. It was a sweet moment in the presence of God.  Even at a small age, they recognized a moment when God was present. I was reminded that when we take the time to worship unabashedly before God, He takes notice.

How often do I take time to just worship God?  I have asked myself that question a few times this week.  Not enough, is my answer. I take time to pray and pour out my many needs and requests. I tell him that I love him and I do tell him how amazing He is.  But to just pour out praise?  No, I do not do that enough.  For years, we have heard that God inhabits the praises of his people.  While the Bible does not directly state that, In Psalms 22:3  King James Version, it says, "But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel."   Other translations translate that as (NIV) Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the one Israel praises.  and (NASB) Yet You are holy, O You who [e]are enthroned upon the praises of Israel.  So while only the KJV implies that God inhabits our praises,  the idea behind it is still there.  God does want us to praise him.  In Isaiah 6:3, the Seraphim that Isaiah saw were crying out "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts." They were before the throne of God. This was also reported by John in Revelations 4:12 as he saw the throne room and the four creatures who cried out day and night, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, The Almighty, who was and is and is to come."   The word 'praise' is in the Bible 259 times.  Psalm 150 is all about singing praise to God. 

150 Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.
Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.
Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.
Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.

Praise is important to God. It is important for his children to praise Him and I believe that praise gets His attention. I know from experience, that when I praise Him, start my prayer time with praise, true praise, His presence sweeps in.  It is palpable and almost like waves of joy washing over my soul.  It is precious and awesome. I love to bring praise before Him and experience His presence.   Praise is so important, that God does not want it given away. The three Hebrew children refused to praise and worship before the statue of King Nebuchadnezzar. He demanded that bow and worship his statue. When they refused, he had them thrown into the super-heated fiery furnace. God's presence showed up and protected them.  The king saw four men walking around in the fire and one was like the Son of God. He recognized that God was there protecting these three men.  When they came out, they didn't even have the smell of smoke on them.  God took notice of three men who refused to give their praise to anyone but Him.  
We can also see in Acts 16 when Paul and Silas were thrown in prison, they sang praises at midnight.  They chose to worship and praise even in the worst of circumstances and God honored that praise with an earthquake that shook the chains right off the prisoners.  This situation that looked dire, became a moment of praise and lives were changed. They were able to witness and baptize the jailer's entire family and a great testimony was formed as they were delivered from prison. God heard their praises and honored them with his presence. He moved and changed their circumstances.  

Praise is heard by God and He will honor those who praise Him with His presence. He moves and acts when he hears praise. His throne room is filled with praise from the seraphim or angels that stand day and night to cry "Holy, holy, holy!"  But when one of his children begins to cry out, "Holy, holy, holy!"  He hears it above the angels. He hears it and moves to be in that moment. How awesome it is when the presence of God sweeps in to hear his precious child sing, "Holy, holy, holy!"  He is there in that moment. Does that make him egotistical?  No, makes him faithful.  He promises to hear us and he has set a precedent in the Word, that praise gets his attention. He is holy and righteous. When a child of God understands that and brings it forth in praise, the Holy and Righteous God, moves and brings forth the holy and righteous acts that need to be done.  He will keep His Word and he will hear our praise. He is present and knows what we need before we even say it.  Just like Paul and Silas, they did not ask God for an earthquake to get them out of prison, they simply praised Him. God took care of the circumstances.  
Sometimes, we talk so much about our circumstances rather than the greatness of God. Maybe we are giving too much 'praise' to the circumstances.  Maybe our talk needs to change to the holiness of God and to praise of Him who made us.  Maybe the words we speak are more powerful than we realized. Maybe when we spend so much time speaking about the troubles, we are actually 'praising' those troubles.  Maybe our words need to change to "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God, Almighty!"  Maybe the words we speak will bring the attention of God and His presence will sweep into the circumstances of our lives.  Maybe he will take care of the circumstances in ways we don't expect when we just begin to speak His praises rather than dwell on our circumstances. 

Proverbs 18:21
Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.

If death and life are in the power of the tongue, the words we speak have great power. We should carefully consider our words.  Praise is words we speak to God. Like Psalm 150 tells us that we are to praise God everywhere.  We are to praise God and everything that has breath can praise God.  I really think I need to take more time to praise God and quit worrying over everything else.  I can make requests known  to him when I pray, but the most important thing I can do is praise.  "Holy, Holy Holy!"