Tuesday, May 31, 2011

To Serve as Jesus Served

Summer vacation is here and our four children are home from school.   It's 7:00 a.m., the day after Memorial Day, and two of our girls just came in from sleeping outside in hammocks.  One is overly tired, the other is disagreeable (one and the same?).  Perhaps you, like me, find it easy to serve some at some times and difficult to serve others at other times.  Thankfully, this is the passage I read this morning:

John 13:1-20

v. 2-4:  During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself.

Impression:  Jesus’ service to the disciples was not dependent on who they were or how they would respond to His service.  His blessing of them was dependent on His security in the Father.  Because God sovereignly orchestrates all circumstances, and because Jesus fully trusted the Father’s outcome, He let go of Himself and gave to others.  There was no clinging to pretense or reputation or pride, there was only a complete surrender that loved others with the love of the Father.

Application:  It is only when I am content with God, satisfied with His provision, and trusting in His care that I can love others selflessly.  When I am insecure I cling tenaciously to that which is mine.  When I trust God, I let go of the reigns and love others with abandon.  My love for others is a measure of the center of my life.  Humble, selfless service result from a loving knowledge of and trust in God.  Tight-fisted giving with pre-determined boundaries results from insecurity and self-love.  What do my attitudes and actions reveal?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Everywhere We Go-oh, People Want to Know-ow

How can I think things in my head, even agree that they're good (during the sermon!), but have such a hard time doing it?  Sigh.  The human condition.   I can easily share on paper what I read today, but if you see me in person, you have permission to hold me accountable for this one because it's going to take a lot of practice!

John 11:1-54

v. 41-42:  So they removed the stone.  Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.  I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.”

Impression:  It was important for people to know that Jesus wasn’t empowered by Himself, because of who He is—even though He is God.  He wanted others to know, unquestionably, that His power and ability came from the Father.  He stated it over and over.

Application:  If it was that important for Jesus to rely on God and communicate that reliance to others, how obvious is it that I should do the same?  As a simple, finite, fickle person I have a need, a desperate emptiness, that can only be met by God.  To act and live and speak as if I do what I do in my own strength and wisdom is foolish.  There is no way any of us lives, or breathes, or plans, apart from the grace of God.  But to live in reliance—to be aware of our reliance and to speak it--is very different.  My pride fights it.  My arrogance and desire for self-reliance fight it.  That is one of the ways Jesus and I are so different.  He was God, but in humility, He transferred all honor and power to its true source, His Father.  With His help, and by His Spirit, may I learn to do the same…

Friday, May 20, 2011

My Shepherd

As I looked out from the kitchen window yesterday, I watched a lamb, half-grown by now, wander up the hill, it's coat smeared with mud and filth diluted by rain.  Our sheep trail through the pasture keeping their own schedule of grazing, masticating, and resting--accompanied by a lone Holstein, his black and white contrast visible above the fresh green grass.  Years of working with and enjoying them make passages like this both personal and meaningful:

John 10:1-21
v. 14-15:  I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.

Impression:  My relationship with Jesus and the Father is based on His care for me and the giving of His life for me, the sheep.  The dumb, unworthy, filthy, wretched little sheep.  Why would a shepherd die for a sheep?  Sheep are many.  They can easily be replaced.  They  are quite useless to the shepherd—they do not protect him or serve him or do things to make his job easier.  They are simply His charge, they are at His mercy.  They are cared for because of the affection of the shepherd or a charge given.  Nor more, no less.

Application:  What a great God!  To love and care and bless and lead us apart from benefit to Himself; in spite of our tendency to wander, to get lost, and hurt, and dirty, and into trouble.  There is no justification for His saving grace apart from Himself—His love and mercy.  The Lord is  my shepherd, I shall not want….