Serving is Leading

26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. (Matthew 20:26; NKJV)

The disciples have demonstrated in the previous verses of Matthew 20 that we looked at earlier in the week their inability to see past the present.  This selfish and worldly perspective was in stark contrast to the Heavenly and eternal perspective Jesus had.  Further, selfish behavior of a couple cause strife and division within the whole.  In that strife, the result is brothers in Christ pushing each other way but Jesus steps in and pulls them close.  He pulls them to safety and He teaches.  He explains the err in their thinking.  What Jesus is looking for is not of the world.  What Jesus is calling us to is a spiritual Kingdom, His Kingdom, and to be a good citizen of this realm will require a change of thinking and behaving.

After explaining what good citizenship isn’t, Jesus teaches that Kingdom Greatness is service.  The word here is “diakonos” which is minister, servant, deacon.  It is an attendant or a waiter at a table.  The word may have come from dia and konis (dust) which is to say raising dust by one’s hurry in ministering (Robertson, p. 162).  In your mind’s eye, imagine a busy restaurant full of patrons.  Waiters come and go working hard to ensure all their tables are always receiving the best service.  They are quite literally trying to be in the same place at once and it is hard work.  No table is the same…different wants, different needs, different orders, different stages of dining.  It is a lot of work and that is what the word diakonos…servant…means.

There are no openings in the Kingdom for bosses, only for servants.

There it is…Jesus’ leadership model for the Kingdom… “everyone serving everyone”!

But not just that.  Jesus is not done.  Jesus makes further distinction and emphasis.  He moves on from qualifying good kingdom citizenship as service (which implies a level of freedom) into a much more severe qualification.  Jesus the Christ is telling us that if we desire to be a good citizen of importance in the Kingdom, we must be a “slave of all” (Mark 10:44; NKJV).  The disciples were seeing the world through fleshly perspective, but Jesus is talking about the spiritual.

This had to be mind blowing for them.  They wanted to be first in rank, influence or honor.  That mental picture doesn’t include them running around serving everyone but being served.  That vision certainly didn’t include them being in bondage.  In the first century, there was no lower status than that of a slave.  So, it is understandable that it would be hard for them to compute but the bottom line in Jesus’ model was that they were going to have to take the lowest status willingly and make others’ welfare more important to them than their own.   Humility was (is ) going to be the key.  Not only is Jesus teaching that everyone serves everyone, He is also teaching that “everyone is a slave to everyone”!  If we are going to rise in the Kingdom of Heaven than we are going to have to first stoop.

The beauty of all of this is that we can serve, and we can be a slave (denying ourselves and binding ourselves to Jesus and His work) in whatever role God gives us with whatever talents/abilities we are blessed with.  God gives us the talents and abilities and the opportunities.  In that, we have responsibility to sever and to glorify Him.  In serving, we are leading for the sake of Jesus.  There is no higher calling in the Kingdom of Heaven than that of service.  It is good that we aspire for greatness in His Kingdom and in doing so we will humble ourselves and serve somebody with the ability God has given us.

Ability + Opportunity = Responsibility

Leadership = Service

We have a responsibility to serve!

 

Rejoicing and Thanksgiving

As Christians, we should be thankful for God’s blessings (a noun identifying the gifts bestowed), not only in word but also in deed.  (1 John 3:17).

Being thankful – truly thankful – is more than a matter of words.  It should be apparent by the way we live our lives that we appreciate God’s goodness and His grace.

Are we thankful for our families? Let’s show it by treating them more lovingly.

Are we thankful for our material possessions? Let’s be good stewards of them by using them in the Lord’s work.

Are we thankful for our friends? Let’s demonstrate it by being a better friend to them.

Are we thankful for the gospel? Let’s prove it by sharing it with everybody around us.

It is a circle…through God’s Grace (that is giving us what we do not deserve) He blesses us.  In receiving these blessing with a proper heart, we are thankful.  Being thankful, we go to God in prayer with rejoicing and thanksgiving and this glorifies our Father.  He hears us, answers according to His will, more blessings come, we are thankful, and the process continues.

This is what Jesus did.  We know from the Bible that while Jesus was a man, He gave thanks to God the Father for the revelation of His will (Matt 11:25), for food (John 6:11), for hearing His prayer (John 11:41-42), for the unleavened bread/fruit of the vine (Mark 14:22-23) as a few examples.  These are examples we can emulate in our thanksgiving

The first century Christians did, and we should.  If we follow Jesus, we deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him…with thanksgiving.  Thankful for the revealed word (Eph 3:3-5), for our food (Acts 27:35), for His hearing our prayers (1 john 5:14-15), for the body and blood of Christ (1 Cor 11:23; 26), and for the gift of Jesus in our lives (Rom 7:24-25; 2 Cor 9:15).

If we take time to be thankful, every moment of every day…and count our blessings, there will be a difference in our lives such as:

Counting blessings takes the focus off our problems, cares, anxieties and worries.

Counting blessings puts the focus on our God, our Father, the source of all blessings.

Counting blessings reminds us that GOD is there, that our Father cares, strengthening our faith.

Counting blessings fills our hearts with joy!

Counting blessings reminds us that we are blessed!

God wants a people.  He wants a people characterized by thankfulness.  If we are His child, He will dwell with us, walk among us, be our God, be our Abba Father (2 Cor 6:16).

Count the blessings God has given you today (and every day).  Enjoy them to His glory.  Tell Him all about your great day…and even if the day isn’t the greatest.  He is glorified in that and your relationship with Him will not disappoint. He will bless you.  You will be thankful.  You will talk to Him.  You will make other’s aware of Him if you do.  I am thankful for that.

Request. Response. Resolution.

20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him. 21 And He said to her, “What do you wish?“  She said to Him, “Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.”  22 But Jesus answered and said, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with”  They said to Him, “We are able.”  23 So He said to them, “You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father.”  24 And when the ten heard it, they were greatly displeased with the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said…   (Matt 20:20-25; NKJV)

Right after Jesus reveals His betrayal and death to the disciples, He is asked that seats of honor would be granted to two of them when Jesus comes into His kingdom.  As I said earlier, I don’t want to be too hard on these guys as we all find ourselves putting our foot in our mouths when we start thinking of ourselves first.  They were asking for the “chief seats” and I think we can get into this trap too.  It is not hard to understand why.  They see what it looks like with Roman and Jewish leadership…what the trappings of power look like.  They have been on the wrong end of things for their entire lives and now they have an opportunity to be on top.  So, through their own selfish lens, they (or should I say their mother) asks for what they want.  It is selfish and it is misguided but it is what they “wanted”.  We can make the same mistake.

Jesus responds by qualifying what they are asking.  Per the previous statement, He asks if they can endure the cup (signifying God’s wrath) and baptism He will have.  Of course, they are certain they can…though they don’t really know what they are saying.  Jesus knows and He tells them what will come to pass in the future as a result of their faithfulness but right now they can’t see past the “chief seats”.  James will drink the cup of martyrdom (Acts 12:2) and we know that many disciples of Jesus suffered a lot (even death) because of their faith.  In the moment, however, the brothers can’t see that and only want to be in a place of honor with the King…even if they don’t yet fully understand it.

The result within the immediate family (of the 12) was the other 10 becoming very displeased with the brothers.  I don’t know if they are upset because they didn’t think to ask first, because they understood what Jesus was saying of betrayal and death and were hurt these two would be so selfish or what exactly got under their skin.  The bottom line is, the brothers’ selfish behavior created division within the group and it is starting to boil over.  This is not uncommon even today.  If there is a brother who is acting selfishly or in a way that is not unifying the group, we can get upset and then we can start talking among ourselves and then we can let it boil over and great division takes place.  What we should do, however, is do what Jesus does.

This is one of my favorite images in the Bible.  As this disagreement begins to take place within the 12, what does Jesus do?  He calls them to Himself.  I picture a huddle and maybe even a group hug eventually.  But here, Jesus calls them together and He teaches for them all to learn.  That is the case with us…we all need to learn from our own and from others shortfalls and mistakes.  None of us are perfect and when another hurts us or wrongs us due to their selfish behavior…call them near and bring Jesus with you.  Talk about it, pray about it, love one another.  We all get off track and take our eye off the ball.  This will hurt when the consequence of this is against us.  But it will hurt a whole lot more if we lose a brother and we have a great example in our Savior of how to call each other close, learn from each other and love one another…God is glorified in that!

There is a lot going on in these verses but the visual in my mind from God’s word of Jesus putting His arms around His disciples, pulling them near and teaching them…redeeming them…loving them is one that brings joy, hope and peace to my heart today.  I hope it does the same for you and if you need to repent and draw someone close that you might have pushed away…do that today.  Ask for someone to help in that.  Jesus is waiting and will go too.

Set Our Minds on Jerusalem

17 Now Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples aside on the road and said to them, 18 “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, 19 and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.” (Matt 20:17-19; NKJV)

This week, I would like to make some observations from Matthew 20 verses 17-28.  We will focus on what Jesus teaches regarding greatness in the Kingdom of Heaven and the implications to our own leadership and service.

Before we get into the conversation Jesus has with His disciples, I wanted to set the stage.  I think the context for the ask that is coming after verse 20 is important.

We read here that Jesus has set His mind to go to Jerusalem and more specifically He has set His mind to offer Himself as a sacrifice for our sins and to fulfill what His Father had sent Him to do.  That is what is on Jesus’ mind…the full weight of the eternal, physical, and spiritual situation.  He even takes a minute to explain it to His followers.  He says very clearly that He will be betrayed, condemned to death, delivered to the enemy, mocked, scourged, and crucified!  Ultimately, He will rise victorious but think about how heavy Jesus’ heart must have been working through in His mind all that He would endure.  That is what is on Jesus’ mind and heart.

So what do the disciples get from that?  Now I am not being overly critical here because they did not yet fully appreciate the fact Jesus was not going to establish an earthly kingdom.  They did not fully understand all that He has taught them and probably couldn’t truly comprehend that their Messiah would “fail” like that…lose…fall to the enemy.  So let’s not be too hard on them but lets look at ourselves and ask “do we ever do that?”

What do I mean?  I am asking us to consider for ourselves if there is ever a time that God has put us in a significant situation for the furtherance of His gospel and the delivering of His people and instead of seeing what God sees, we get focused on what we see.  From this perspective, do we start asking “what’s in it for me?” or “how do I benefit in this?”  Maybe not.  Maybe this isn’t something you struggle with.  If you are like me though, you have and you do.

We are selfish and our spirit wars against our flesh.  It did for Paul…it does for us.  The work we are involved in for Jesus in our homes, within the Body, at work, with strangers…it is important work and the consequences of our not getting out of our own way and seeing as God sees is sobering.  It is sobering in terms eternity.  These are souls we are talking about.

Thankfully, we have Jesus.  We have His word.  We have each other.  We are not alone in this and though we might get overly focused on ourselves, we can find correction and encouragement in the Bible and from our brethren.  We aren’t supposed to get it perfect.  We are supposed to be perfected through God’s power in our lives.  It takes time and study to know, understand, and apply God’ word to our lives so that when moments like this come into our path, we can see it as God see’s it.  We can stoop down, humble ourselves, deny ourselves, take up our cross, follower our Savior and rise in the greatness of His work and His awesome power.

Let’s start here for the week.  Take some time and read Matthew 20 and look for the lessons that apply to your life.  We are going to look at how we can get out of focus, how Jesus teaches us to see things differently, to be the least results in greatness, and to do so because He is our King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  I am so thankful for Him and for you!

Let This Mind Be In You

This week scratched the surface on our growth towards shepherding and I hope it gave you some things to meditate on and pray about.

We are all a work in progress.  Growing up to being qualified to shepherd God’s flock is a lifetime investment and walk with Jesus.  What a blessing to have that opportunity.  To know Jesus and have Him as our example and to examine ourselves against His standard.

In 2012, South Macomb Church of Christ has a theme titled “Let This Mind Be In You” (Philippians 2:5).  The theme examined different mindsets to include Knowing Christ, Humble Service, Purpose, Like-mindedness, Citizenship, Contentment & Rejoicing, and Influence.  The bottom line in all of this was having a mind for loving and saving souls.

Take what we have talked about this week, what you have thought about and consider Jesus talking about Himself in the context of shepherding:

7 Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.  11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. 12 But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. 13 The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. 15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd. (John 10: 7-16)

Shepherds recognize that sheep are easily scattered when there are not shepherds to watch out for them.  We should have a heart for the souls of others that we do not want to do anything that would cause the sheep to be scattered.  Therefore, our actions will have concern to not harm the faith of the sheep.

To move your life toward being a shepherd means you are going to be a leader and make decisions for the good of the flock. You can and will have to do this now…no matter age.

Shepherding is not a passive work but a difficult work.

But your love for the flock and desire for the flock to not be scattered and injured will lead you to want to do this important work even though it is difficult.  Shepherding is not a title.  It is a work and a very important work.  The work you do today is important and taking time to reflect on your life and on your actions through the lens of Jesus bears fruit today and will bear fruit in the future.  Abide in Jesus and your life will come to reflect Him and you will be found qualified when called for service and shepherding of the flock.

If you are interested in hearing sermons from the 2012 Let This Mind Be In You, please visit this site: https://www.southmacombchurchofchrist.org/sermons/online-lessons?title=&y=2012&se=13&sv=0&sp=0

Shepherds Seek Weak Sheep and Strengthen Them

The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them.  (Ezekiel 34:4)

We continue to consider what types of behaviors we should participate in as men in living a life for Jesus which prepares us for the “good work” of shepherding God’s flock.  In the above verse, we find another thing Israel’s shepherds were doing that was not correct and provides us insight into what right things we should be doing.  These shepherds did not seek out the weak and they did not take action for those needing help.

As followers of Jesus, we must build relationships with our brothers and sisters so that we know them and we know when they are struggling.  It is not enough, however, to just see it or to know it.  If we are going to grow up and be qualified to shepherd, we have to notice those that are struggling and we have to make it our responsibility to do something.  Provide a comforting word, take time and pray with them, encourage them for the good they are doing, go to the shepherds (or a more experienced man or woman if appropriate) and get guidance or ask for help.

We have to prepare ourselves to find ways to strengthen the weak.  We will have to find ways to help heal the sick, bind up the injured or bring back the lost.  Again, it doesn’t mean we have to go it alone.  It means we are aware and willing to be involved for the benefit of our Christian family.

There is nothing passive about God’s shepherds.  Therefore, if we are to grow up right, we cannot be passive either.  We need to train our heart and our mind to be proactive and work to help everyone we notice who is slipping or straying.  We might not always know the right thing to do, but we can know that something needs to be done and find help to act. We must be active members of the flock.

It is a common mistake to sit back and expect that someone else will notice or someone else will take action.  It is a mistake to only look out for those brothers or sisters you feel most comfortable with.  We have to be involved and active.  God expects it of us as part of the body and especially God will expect demonstrated proactive behavior over time if we are going to be qualified to shepherd.

We cannot be empathetic.  We cannot be lazy.  We cannot make excuses.  We are more than conquers in Jesus Christ so we can and must do something that will help another if we see the need.

Remember though, be thoughtful.  Thoughtful in how you speak and act.  Don’t be a hindrance.  Be sure you are making the situation better.  Remember God has the power and ability, we are an instrument so be prayerful.  Seek God’s strength and His power in all of this and you will be able to act confidently.  If we seek Christ, then we will act in ways that help and not hurt others.

Take some time and think about opportunities you have taken and ones you might have let slip by.  Think of those you might need to get to know better so that you can be an active participant in their walk.  Take time and pray about this and seek God’s wisdom and involvement in your growth as an active participant in His family.  Don’t try to do it all…crawl, walk, run.  But move forward and make this an important part of your life as your grow and serve.

Shepherds Feed Sheep, Not Themselves Alone

 

We will continue our discussion about shepherding and the importance of knowing what it means to shepherd God’s flock, understand what we can be doing as we mature in the faith to be prepared for this role, and work with each other help each other grow towards this “good work”.

Yesterday I referenced 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 as where we can go in God’s word to see what His qualifications are for shepherds (and deacons). In my mind, we can take these qualifications and work them backwards to determine what we should be doing throughout our lives so that we will be qualified when called. That said, we can also look at God’s word and find out what NOT to do and learn the same important lessons. That is what we will do starting in the beginning of Ezekiel 34. We are only going to look at the first few verses this week and will find God’s rebuke of the shepherds of Israel. But you can (and should) read the entire chapter and will find God talking about how He will shepherd and what we find there looks just like Jesus’ words in John 10 when He talks about being the Good Shepherd.

In Ezekiel 34:2-3, we read: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God to the shepherds: “Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? 3 You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock.

God gives us visual language so that we can understand but what God is talking about is a spiritual matter. God’s shepherds must be concerned with the maturity and spirituality of others. Though we can get caught up in the material things of this world in such a way that we do not take care of the more important spiritual matters, the soul of a person is what matters in the end. As men, we have to ensure we are in fellowship with God and our own soul is being strengthened. This will allow us to strengthen others to the point we can make it our mission to love, feed, and nourish the souls of others as we grow and mature in the faith.

So what can we do if we aren’t shepherds but a member of the flock? Good grief, tons! But today I will just give you a couple things to think and pray about in your own walk and things we can be looking out for in encouraging and helping other brothers and young men.

First, build relationships with others in the flock. Really get to know others. Make that important to you and position yourself to have a spiritual impact in another’s life. You can do this by ensuring you are present when the flock meets or making it a point to get together with others in different settings. The bottom line is to get together and make it your job to do the inviting and always try to say yes when invited.

Second, speak and speak God’s word. Participate in bible discussions, be thoughtful, share your thoughts, demonstrate your heart. This will edify others and will also provide opportunity to grow as you might need another’s guidance or help but how will they know if you don’t have a relationship or trust and/or you don’t speak. Be thoughtful, be about God’s word, be about edifying others and using your words not to defend your position but to build up another and make them feel safe.

God says of His shepherds: And I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. (Jeremiah 3:15)

Make it your mission to learn God’s word, build relationships so you know what is really going on in other’s lives, consider God’s word in the context of your relationship and speak His word into other’s lives for their edification through knowledge and understanding and God’s love demonstrated.

It Ain’t Pretty

“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.”  II Corinthians 4:16

Brother Claude joined my family for Thanksgiving dinner in 2016.  Kristine goes all out for my favorite holiday, fixing all the traditional favorites as well as some Harrison family specials.  We usually have enough food to feast on for four or five days in a row.

I picked Claude up around 11 and we got down to eating around one in the afternoon.  A little while after lunch he made me aware that he had to use the facilities so we wheeled him over to the restroom door and quickly realized that, even if I took the door off the hinges, his chair wasn’t going to fit through.  Our home was obviously not up to the American Disabilities Act guidelines.

Before I go on, I need to tell you a little bit about Claude’s background.  After college, he joined the Air Force and became a pilot.  During his time in the service he received two Flying Cross medals, a Bronze Star, and a Legion of Merit, just to name a few.  He retired as a Lieutenant Colonel and went on to have a career in real estate and as a broker for Merrill Lynch.  This was a man who understood dignity, power and success.  Now back to the restroom.

We stood (well Claude sat) at the door of the bathroom deciding how we would approach the task at hand.  I got into the room and stood facing him, preparing to pull him up out of his chair.   Claude lined the chair up with the doorway and engaged the brake.  With a coordinated effort, I took him by the hands and pulled him upward, wrapping my arms around his chest and under his armpits as he stabilized himself on the bathroom sink with his left hand.  I then proceeded to half carry/half drag him to the front of the toilet.  At this point, Claude had his right hand on the wall and his left hand still clutching the sink basin.

I moved around Claude so that I could stabilize him from behind.  It was at this point that I realized both of his hands were occupied keeping himself upright, preventing him from falling over.  This meant that it was my job to help with his pants and undergarments.  Thankfully, once that task was done, he leaned forward and put his head on wall for stability so that he could take care of the rest.

I stood back and watched as this former Lieutenant Colonel leaned forward with his head on the wall, clutching the sink with his left hand, so that he could go about the simple task of emptying his bladder.  A process that most of us do several times a day and take for granted had become an exhausting and embarrassing experience for this dear man.

Why the story?  In the scheme of things, this adventure with Brother Claude was relatively mundane.  He had to rely on others all the time for more intimate physical needs like bathing and changing clothes.  He handled the decaying of his body with understanding and grace.  He was never under the illusion that our flesh was meant to last forever.  In his life he had tasted significance, success and power but those were not things that he tried to hold on to.  They were temporal and he was living for the eternal.  Brother Claude’s identity was not wrapped up in titles and toys, it was rooted in the Lord Jesus Christ.

What about you?  What about me?  I’d like to think that my treasures are in heaven but that is not always the case.  I care too much about the approval of men.  I spend too much energy chasing significance in this life.  I don’t really know how I will react when the trophies of this world are stripped away from me…and they will be stripped away.  One way or another we will all end up leaning our heads against the wall staring down at the toilet, metaphorically speaking.

When it is all taken away, will we have anything left?

“Do not love the world nor the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.  The world is passing away, and its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.”  I John 2:15-17

Stand Firm. Be Sure. Shine Light

This week we have thought about the fact that we can stand firm and secure if we are faithful and hold onto our Abba Father and Savior Jesus.  From here, we can live a bold confidence that when our time is over here we will be with our Father and Elder Brother in Heaven for all eternity.  These thoughts are awesome and life changing…for our own lives and the lives of those around us…especially your families.

Living this way, however, will certainly stand out in the world we live in and will be a light shining into the darkness many of the people we meet are experiencing in their own lives.  We can and do shine the light of Christ into other people’s lives if we are standing with Him and living for Him.  A light that we hope will illuminate or even expose so that people we interact with will see Jesus and see themselves and understand that sin is keeping them from being reconciled to the Father and Jesus can remedy that with His blood.  This shining of light is a powerful thing, but it comes from a power source we do not directly possess and can only have through Jesus.  For us to be fully charged we have to continue to be in contact with the power source and we do that through God’s word, prayer, meditation, fellowship…by staying plugged in or said another way abiding (John 15).

There is so much encouragement in God’s word and God has given us all we need to be charged and to emit.  We just have to stay connected.  I know many of you have your own way of doing this but today I am going to invite you to read Revelation 21-22 and consider what God has told us about Heaven, what Jesus is doing…today…and how that can translate to a great hope that is infectious even if every indication we are getting from others is that it repels.

Here are some highlights from chapters 21 and 22 that I find awesome and encouraging in terms of our home and how active and involved and interests our Savior is in ensuring we get there.

3…“Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Rev 21)

 6 And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. 7 He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.

 4 They shall see His face

 5 There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.

 7 “Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”

 12 “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.”

 14 Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.

 16I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.”

 20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.”  Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Let that be your response today.  Be filled.  Shine your light.  Be ready when someone can’t help but ask “why”…and start with “Have you heard about my Jesus?”

Stand Still–Stand Firm

David writes in Psalm 18 about the words he sang on the day God delivered him from all his enemies and the hand of Saul.  David writes:

1 I will love You, O Lord, my strength.  2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold3 I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies.  (Psalm 18:1-3; NKJV)

Peter, after being arrested for preaching the gospel and speaking to the Sanhedrin says of Jesus… 11 This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ 12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:11-12; NKJV)

I thought of these verses in thinking about what kind of husband and father to my daughter I want to be.  There are a lot of different challenges to being a good Godly husband and father.  One of the most challenging for me is to know what the right thing is to do for my wife or my daughter at any given time.  What I want to do is rescue them from whatever is troubling them.  I want to be the knight in shining armor, the fixer, the “man”.  But I will tell you, this approach often has unforeseen consequences and the disappointment I feel when I get it wrong is crushing at times…and if nothing else confusing and can lower my confidence in myself and what God wants me to do.  In the worst case, I get angry and blame my wife or my daughter for not getting me or appreciating me…me, me, me.

What I think about in this context about these verses is this.  If I believe that God is my rock, my fortress, my stronghold and His Son Jesus is the chief cornerstone of my salvation, then I need to stand upon that Rock and be strong for my wife and my daughter.  If I holdfast to God and receive from Him the love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, longsuffering, strength, peace…if I get all these spiritual blessings and more from Him and know that He is with me and will not forsake me…then I am free to just stand there or said another way I am free to just “be there”.  As I stand solidly on my faith and demonstrate the firm ground under my feet in Jesus, my wife and my daughter will take notice.

Standing on solid ground, I can be there for them to lean on when they need me.

Standing on the Rock of Jesus, I can stand firm if they need to climb up, lay down, and rest or just get a hug or a warm touch.

Standing firm in God, I can be an example they can look to or point to in difficult times and be encouraged.

If I am standing with Jesus, I will be what God wants me to be for my wife and my daughter.  It isn’t about what I am getting from my wife or my daughter, but what I get from my Abba Father and Elder Brother that matters.  When I get that spiritual strength through faith and abiding in Jesus, I then can give of myself in a way that is most beneficial to my wife, my daughter and my family.

Sounds crazy, but give it a try.  The next time things are going crazy, the house is hectic, there is more to be done than hands to do it…just stand still with Jesus and holdfast to Him as you hold onto her and that will make an eternal difference.