Tag Archives: servant

Who is Lord of your life?

Ezekiel 22 – 24 “Who is Lord of your life?”

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People are waiting for the movie Downton Abbey to be released. People already have purchased tickets and are counting down the days. Why are people drawn to this fictitious story? One reason may be that one character, the stuffy butler, captures our heart. Like in feudal times the butler understood his role as servant and he obeyed.  In the NT Peter has a vision in which he is told to rise up and kill but he responded: “Surely not, Lord!”  How often are we like Peter and not like the butler when we say “but Lord?” or “why me Lord.” Could it be that we don’t understand our role as a servant?

The Lord prepared Ezekiel for the death of his wife. He told him:

“I am about to take the delight of your eyes away from you with a jolt, but you must not mourn or weep or shed tears.”

And it happened just as the Lord had said; in the evening his wife died and Ezekiel did just as the Lord commanded. Ezekiel did not question:  “but why Lord?” or as Peter said, “Surely not, Lord!” Ezekiel, like the stuffy butler, obeyed without question because he knew his position as servant and he trusted the Lord to take care of the details.

How about us? Do we trust God enough to be obedient even when we don’t understand the reasons behind his request?

Who is Lord of your life?

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Mirror Mirror on the Wall…Who is the Fairest of Them All?

 ImageMirrors have a way of changing our view.  We have a choice: will we look in the mirror and walk away forgetting who we are (James 1)  or will we look in the mirror and with a gasp see the true reflection and then choose to alter our view to mirror Christ? Are we seeing a servant spirit or a proud spirit? That is the question that Paul is asking the Corinthians to do in chapter 4.

Recently a friend has posted many times of the gratefulness he has experienced for his new pastor who is still driving 100 miles round trip to serve at his “wee” church. So too Paul had put a lot of shoe leather to the test as he walked from place to place. It is easy to get up and attend church when you live a mere 5 min drive or walk but this dear pastor and Paul put service above their personal needs.  The question Paul is asking in this chapter is how do we view ourselves and more importantly, how do we view those in leadership. There is a saying: do not judge unless you have walked a mile in another’s shoes. That is what Paul is driving home in this chapter through his analogy of the servant and a steward.

Paul says there is a right way and a wrong way to view those in leadership and the Corinthians were leaning towards the wrong way. Paul uses two words to grab their attention and to get a true view. The Corinthians had a problem of elevating three people: Paul, Apollos, and Cephas more than Christ and not only that but they were beginning to elevate themselves with the mentality of “I have arrived.”  To help them, Paul now gives them a picture of how we are to view those in leadership in our own churches which then gives us a proper perspective of who we are. Paul encourages them to imitate him as he follows Christ, the ultimate example of servanthood and stewardship.

Servants and stewards. Here he uses the word “hyperetas” which means a subordinate servant who ministers or renders a service to another. Secondly, Paul uses the word stewards which is the word “oikonomos.” This is one who has been entrusted with the management of a household. Ultimately they must give a report to a master and Paul is saying, I must give an account to God. God is looking for one key component: faithfulness.  As you look at the leadership in your church what do you see? Does Jesus shine through them? Do you see them as servants/stewards or do we look at how they dress, how they market our church, their entertainment value, their humor? Instead we should be looking at those in leadership and their gift of servanthood and stewardship and ask: Are they being faithful?  We might ask that same question of ourselves. How does God see me?

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Paul is saying to the Corinthians and to us: don’t elevate one leader over another. Consider this fact: God is the giver of every perfect gift from above, for He is the Father of lights. See your leadership as a gift from God. Praise God for those in leadership and pray for them that they would be wise servants and stewards of that which has been entrusted to them which they are now sharing with you. Lastly, see yourself also as a servant in the Body of Christ.

Four questions: (1) Do I truly give God credit for my salvation? (2) Do I live with a spirit of humility? (3) Seeing all things come from God, what can I give in return to Him? (4) How can you demonstrate gratefulness for those in leadership over you?

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Contructive Criticism from a Master Teacher: Paul

ImageSome years ago I was given an ENORMOUS compliment…that I was a master teacher. Humbly, I do not see myself in that category after studying the life of Jesus and further the life of Paul. Especially so in the third chapter of Corinthians!

Principle: Jesus is the Master Teacher of all and Paul learned at his feet. We would do well to follow his example. Now to our study for today 1 Cor 3:

A few days ago we talked about the fact that there is a grain of truth in every ounce of criticism. That fits here today as we walk through Paul’s loving rebuke to the believers in the Corinthian Church. Let’s see why and how Paul is a master teacher. What is a master teacher? A master teacher is one who drives their students to grow in whatever sphere of learning they are found. They are able to create independent learners who have the critical thinking skills to grow beyond where they find themselves at the moment. They use multiple learning strategies (intellectual, emotional or volitional paths) to cause their students to grasp the material. A master teacher  has the role of mentoring not training. You might want to go and research the role of a mentor here before you go on. I had to do that last year. What is a mentor? How do you distinguish a mentor from a trainer?

The first step in planning and preparing a lesson is to know your material. Chapter 2 shows us that Paul indeed does. His material consisted of the message of Christ crucified that men may yield their hearts and minds to Him alone. He reminded these precious believers that they have the mind of Christ so think and do as He would have done.  

Now the problem. Paul heard news of the divisions that were occurring in this church. He bluntly tells them that they are still infants, they had heard the message but had not moved beyond the message to the action that proves they understood the message.  After that blow to their ego he goes on to explain why he has said this. It was not about the doctrine but their application of that doctrine to real life.

A master teacher uses various illustrations to present a basic point. Paul uses three metaphors to show these precious believers (recall 1Cor 1: rich in knowledge, do not lack any spiritual gift) where they should have been at this time. First metaphor: the garden. One plants, one waters, but God is the master gardener.  Second metaphor: a building. One designs, one builds, but God is the master architect. Third metaphor: the temple.  Now to make it personal Paul says: You are the temple, the Illuminating Holy Spirit lives within you; do not destroy the temple. Thus with each metaphor, Paul is essentially saying God is ultimate and we (himself, Apollos, Cephas) are but servants. Do not elevate us beyond our station in life, instead honor God first and foremost.

Then to draw his lesson to a close Paul asks them to diagnose where they are. They are either a wise expert (vs 10), an unwise builder (vs 15) or one who is destructive (vs 17). Thus after this consider that one day judgment will come and God will prove which person they are by the works they bring to Him. Again to help them, Paul as a master teacher uses tangible gifts (gold, silver, precious stones or wood, hay or straw) to help them see how their works might stand the test of fire. Paul is saying: diagnose where you are and how you are either building on the foundation or tearing it down. Paul reminds them once again: no man should boast except in the Lord alone!

Our question then is: How do you see yourself in your family/church/community? Do you see yourself as a servant of the Most High God? Are you building with precious gifts or gifts that will be extinguished in the fire?

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Authentication and Proving Required

ImageSo far in the book of Matthew, we have walked through the first three chapters and seen that as a superior researcher and writer, Matthew has given us three areas to prove that Jesus was the Messiah. First was the genealogical record, second his birth, thirdly, the world’s reception, and now in chapter 4 we will see his power over temptation.

 Job may have been God’s “s”ervant  who proved to be blameless but Jesus is the “S”ervant who not only proved blameless but left us with the truth of how to face the arch enemy of our souls.

The Holy Spirit anointed Jesus and led him into the wilderness. The Israelites were proven to be faithless but Jesus will prove His faithfulness. Sometimes we too are led into the wilderness to be proven. It is in these times of barrenness that we either rely upon God and His trustworthiness or succumb to the enemy’s bait.

We say Satan doesn’t get it, but in reality he does get it. He is persistent and his one aim is to destroy and change the plans of God. Allen Ross wrote: The temptation episode was God’s way of showing that Jesus was the perfect man, that He could resist sin, that he could defeat Satan.  He has conquered and therefore can intercede for us. [Heb 4:14-16].

And so the temptations begin with Satan dangling his bait just as he did in the garden, in the wilderness, did with Peter and does with us today. Jesus was discerning and so we should be as well. Hebrews reminds us to be feeding upon the meat of the Word, memorizing it so when he comes calling, disguised as an angel of light or otherwise, we can discern him for what he is: a liar and a thief. We are told by Paul to put on our armor for we will be wrestling not against flesh and blood but against the spiritual forces of darkness.

 A truth we can count on: Satan sees only one side of God’s coin, he is not omniscient! Satan saw a garden destroyed but Jesus saw a wilderness–that is you and I, ready to be redeemed. Satan saw an earthly pinnacle but Jesus saw heaven’s portal – I am the Way, the Truth, the Life [ John 14:6]. Satan sought temporary worship of warring conflicting kingdoms but Jesus sought to bring men into God’s eternal kingdom exhibiting peace.  Through it all, Jesus proved He was Conqueror and Victor, because He knew the right choice of scripture better than his tempter and He would not be deterred to be removed from God’s eternal plan for mankind. He was steadfast and immoveable [1Cor 15:58].

ImageUpon the completion of the temptation angels came and ministered to Jesus. So when we have found our way of escape from the tempter’s grasp [ICor 10:13], we will be fed the manna of heaven or angel’s food as Irving Jensen called it.

While I or you face these temptations how will we be sustained? By the Word or by the flesh? Do we face the path of least resistance or are we ready with our sword and shield of faith etc. When the storm is passed how do we revel, in God’s glory or our own? Thoughts to consider.

But while we face these proving trials we must ask: What is it that sustains us in these times? When tempted and tried are we joyful and seek wisdom? [James 1]. Can we resist with scripture so the enemy must flee? [James 4:7]. Do we give God the glory when the storm has passed and we see His rainbow calling us to His work?

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