Posts Tagged ‘Philippians 2:5-9’

The Grace of Serving

June 9th, 2014

“The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.”  Mark 10.45 NKJV.

You are truly a servant when not offended to be treated as one.

Today, my thoughts and comments are about, “the grace of serving.”

Who comes to your mind as having a servant heart? My Mom was like that. I observed her joyfully exercise this practical, spiritual gift of serving throughout her lifetime. For some serving is a God-given gift in their nature. For most of us, serving must become a purposeful development of Godly character and intentional practice. Jesus is your perfect example.

And you and I are called to be like Jesus. Now that is a most staggering goal but there is help. “We know that when He appears, we will be like Him because we will see Him as He is.” 1 John 3.2 NIV. But that is then, and this is now. I would describe this as a process, a progressive work of the Holy Spirit that is life-long. None of us is a finished product in this life time. It doesn’t happen naturally, nor very quickly either.  

There are days when being even a little more like Jesus seems a pretty big task. His goal is clear: “Until we all . . become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:13 NIV. People often have fairly strange ideas of what that might look like. I find that most spiritual things are a lot more practical and simple than you might make them. When people make spiritual development mystical and complex, they can easily excuse themselves from responsibility to even begin the journey.

Here’s where you begin. Commit yourself to find opportunities to serve others, like Jesus did. “Just as the Son did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28 NIV. Jesus didn’t have to serve; He chose to serve. Philippians 2:5-9 NKJV. Serving is a family trait. You choose to serve. You become more like Jesus when you know that serving pleases Jesus most. Pleasing Him is this simple, ”. . through love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13 NKJV. Serving requires grace, and all grace begins with God.

The disciples were shocked when Jesus knelt to wash their feet. See John 13:12-15. Such a thing was culturally unthinkable, cross-grain to their pride of self and station. They had a lot to learn, and it would be a hard lesson for them. They were looking to be heads of state in His new government. Mark 10:35-41 NIV. Servants of God care more for others than themselves.  

Jesus turned the world system upside down so in His Kingdom it would be right side up. Those insisting on being served are the lesser important in His Kingdom. Jesus said those with a humble and caring heart who choose to wrap a servant’s towel around their waist and joyfully give themselves to serve are the great ones. See Luke 22:24-27 NIV. There comes a nobility with a serving heart. Those who serve are not demeaned; in God’s eyes, they are elevated.

My dear friend and spiritual father, Campbell, wisely said, “Allen, if you want to know how well you are doing as a servant, notice your reaction when someone treats you like one.” That is a good and practical measure of your progress, or lack thereof. A strong dose of servanthood is beneficial, producing serving as a lifestyle, rather than an occasional occurrence. When you enjoy serving, you develop a servant-heart and become more like Jesus.

Today, my prayer for you is that you will feel the joy of opportunities to serve God and others.

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Regrets, Repentance, and Redemption

October 9th, 2013

“Jesus . . became poor so that you through His poverty might become [enriched].” 2 Corinthians 8:9 NIV.

Redemption is the lavish application of God’s grace to remove every cause for regret.

My thoughts and comments today are about “regrets, repentance, and redemption.”

Everyone has regrets. Everyone makes mistakes. What happens after you make a mistake or poor choice is what matters most. People regret things wrongly committed – harsh words, angry reactions, bad behavior, impatience – which they wish they had restrained. Or regret can result from good things omitted. The Bible cautions, “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” James 4:17 NIV. God views sins of omission and sins of commission alike.

Your goal should be to have a sanctified and trained conscience that preempts your natural inclination to do wrong, whether knowingly or unknowingly. Paul offered a worthy goal, “So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.” Acts 24:16 NIV. Regret is a belated recognition of wrongdoing.

There was a time when I assumed righteousness could be measured by how long I could go without sinning. Trust me; that is not very effective. Along the way, I have come to understand that a better measurement of a Godly heart is the brevity of time between recognition of wrong and repentance for it. Regret is ineffective; only repentance can release redemption. Any delay or neglect of repentance produces the pain of regret without promise of release.

The prodigal son experienced devastating regret. Read Luke 15:11-24 NKJV. Eventually, he felt humiliated by his foolishness before and his degrading existence now. Nothing would have changed had he not “come to himself” and determined to return home to his father. Vs. 17-20. “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” Read 2 Corinthians 7:9 NIV. Regret alone is insufficient, but true repentance results in redemption. “Just see what this Godly sorrow produced in you . . you showed that you have done everything you could to make things right.” Vs. 11 NLT.

Regret preoccupies you with paralyzing emotions of remorse; repentance releases you from regret and remorse. “You know how full of love and kindness our Lord Jesus Christ was. Though he was very rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you [enriched].” 2 Corinthians 8:9 NLT. Obviously, Paul’s contrasting words, “rich and poor,” reference our spiritual poverty contrasted with the abounding riches of God’s grace. “I thank my God always concerning the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him . .” 1 Corinthians 1:4-6 NKJV. In Christ, regret is replaced by rejoicing.

Redemption is the lavish application of God’s grace, removing every cause for regret, whatever its source. See Ephesians 1:3-9 NKJV. On His cross, the Savior “emptied Himself,” (Philippians 2:5-9 NAS) so that you and I can be enriched in the fullness of grace and redemption His eternal sacrifice affords. Whatever your regrets, bring them to Jesus and rest secure in His amazing grace.

My prayer for you today is that you live free of regret, rejoicing in God’s plenteous grace.

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Ruling Your Thoughts

June 20th, 2012

“If anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 NIV

God is with those in whose minds are thoughts pleasing to Him.

My thoughts and comments today are about “ruling your thoughts.”

Whatever dominates your thoughts eventually directs your life. You either rule your thoughts, or they will rule you. Your inner life consists of your mind, will, and emotions. And the mind often has a predominate role in directing your feelings and choices. Your thoughts act like a personal rudder that steers your decisions and directions you take. Though referring to the tongue, the Bible describes a ship’s rudder in ways that could also be applied to the disproportionate influence of one’s thoughts, “Ships . . although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.” James 3:4 NIV. A thought seems so small but it is far from powerless.

Direct your thoughts where they ought to go rather than allow their taking you wherever they seem to go. Make thoughts your servant rather than master. Some people’s thoughts are like a whimsical preschooler, extremely active but not particularly productive, unless properly, sometimes forcefully directed. In Peter’s first epistle, he links your mind and thoughts with your proper conduct. Read 1 Peter 1:13-15 NKJV.

Thoughts will dictate how you feel about your life, sometimes unnoticeably at the moment – coloring the memories of your past, interpreting and often misinterpreting present events, and projecting future expectations. That makes them important for you to manage. You need to guide your thoughts for them to be productive and carefully guard them to be profitable. Much hurt can result to you or others if your thoughts are not daily purified by the “cleansing with the washing of water by the Word” (Ephesians 5:26 NKJV), and daily “transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:2 NIV.

The Apostle Paul often referred to your mind as holding the key to one’s happiness, “. . guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Whatever is true . . noble . . right . . pure . . lovely . . admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things . . and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:6-9 NIV. The God of peace is with those in whose minds are thoughts pleasing to Him. “The mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” Read Romans 8:5-6 NIV/See Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT.

Do you wonder how to accomplish that? I can assure you that such rightly directed thoughts do not come naturally. You have to do a lot of sorting and selecting. First, recognize the mind of Christ resides within you. “No one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God . . but we have the mind of Christ.” Read 1 Corinthians 2:11-16 NIV/Philippians 2:5-9 NKJV. With the mind of Christ within you, you can choose truth over error, contrast right from wrong, crave purity over impurity, choose excellence instead of mediocrity, and recognize what is praiseworthy.

Ruling your thoughts includes you but begins with God. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me . . For the word of God is living and active . . it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Psalm 139: 23-24 NIV/Hebrews 4:12 NIV. When God has done His part, you must then do yours. “Pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments . . bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” Read 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 KJV.

My prayer for you today is that your thoughts are of things excellent and praiseworthy.

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