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Serving Others: Requirement of the Law or the Effect of Gospel?

Devotional Thought of the Day:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

24  Then they began to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest among them. 25  Jesus told them, “In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’ 26  But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. 27  Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves. Luke 22:24-27 (NLT)

167  Make up the time you have lost resting on the laurels of your self-complacency, and thinking what a good person you are, as if it were enough just to keep going, without stealing or killing. Speed up the pace of your piety and your work: you still have such a long way to go: Live happily with everyone, even with those who annoy you, and make an effort to love —to serve!—those whom you despised before.  (1)

“Christianity is the only co-operative society that exists for the benefit of non-members  (2)

Thirty years ago, as I was a sophmore (Literally translated ‘wise fool’ and it fit) at a small Bible College, I was somewhat of an idealist.

The school’s motto was that it was to prepare “Servant-Leaders” who would change the world for Christ.  That was our mission, and many of us dreamed of the glory that would occur in our lives.  Some of us would head to the mission field.  Some into congregations where they would minister with children or youth or music, or some as preachers.

Thirty years later, I am less idealistic.  I lost long ago the visions of doing something spectacular in the sight of God and man.  And to be honest, with that burden gone, I find more joy in what i see God doing.  As I heard of how my church members minister to one of their own this morning, as I observed them caring for the new people who visited our church yesterday.  I hear of the sacrifice of others, as they care for their families, even their friends. These may seem to be little things – but it is amazing to observe God’s love pouring out.

At the same time, it is amazing to see the hunger and thirst for God’s word, for the sacraments.  There seems to be this connection between God providing for us, and our providing, in very meaningful ways, for others. There is something about knowing the presence of God, and hungering to be present for others, There is something about receiving Christ’s mercy, about knowing that God is compassion towards us, and is passionate in His care for us. It empowers us, it drives us, it raises our awareness of those who need to know God..

One of my favorite passages to teach/preach/use explains this connection between God serving us, and our serving others…

1  And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Romans 12:1 (NLT)

This is the norm, when you walk with God.  To imitate Christ as He served, serving those around.  Such is the blessing of being a living sacrifice.

I think that may be the problem we have had in recent years. That we’ve made serving God an obligation, that you are only holy if you serve

But what if serving is a way of finding out who we are in Christ?  What if it is a blessing, a gift from God as we realize how He has designed us to live?  What if in serving, we find out how much more God services us?  What if our serving is simply the side affect of becoming children of God?

Servants who lead – because our leader served.

This blog post has wandered a bit today… but there is an obvious need to return to these roots, to live in Christ, like Christ.  For our own sake, to be a church that is more interested in those who are struggling, than in ourselves.  But that can’t be done in a compensatory manner.  It comes as we know, as we experience Christ.  The Lord who served others in life, and by His death, and still serves us today…..

Lord Have mercy by guiding us to show mercy.  AMEN

 

 

 

(1)   Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 916-920). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

(2) Northumbrian Community:   Celtic Daily Prayer,  Entry for May 5

 

Lessons about God re-learned from Candy Crush Saga

Devotional thought of the day….

14  So, when gentiles, not having the Law, still through their own innate sense behave as the Law commands, then, even though they have no Law, they are a law for themselves. 15  They can demonstrate the effect of the Law engraved on their hearts, to which their own conscience bears witness; since they are aware of various considerations, some of which accuse them, while others provide them with a defence . . . on the day when, 16  according to the gospel that I preach, God, through Jesus Christ, judges all human secrets. Romans 2:14-16 (NJB) 

35  Bless the Lord, all the Lord’s creation: praise and glorify him for ever!   Prayer of Azariah 1:35 (NJB)  *

 7  O LORD, you deceived me, and I was deceived; you overpowered me and prevailed. I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me. Jeremiah 20:7 (NIV)

Sitting in the airport the other day, getting frustrated by playing a silly game on my phone, I recognized the same kinds of frustrations that I’ve been dealing with for a while in life.  As I got on the plane, I was reading a new book, recommended to me by a friend.  Written by a Catholic priest, it talked about the lessons of faith learned through watching Star Wars, and how to apply those to ministry.   Very well writtent this book, and so while taking it in, I thought of my frustrations and decided to write this blog.

So here are the things I’ve learned about God from playing this frustrating, addictive game.

1.  Achieving your goal may take some time!
Nothing in Candy Crust saga is impossible.  It just seems like it!  Eventually the little things will line up, you’ll get rid of the bombs and you will finish that level.  It may take you a week, or 30-40 trips to the bathroom (come on – be honest – you play Candy Crush there!).  You might put it down for a couple of days, you might even delete it off you tablet.  But the levels aren’t impossible.  Likewise, we will endure through the struggles in our lives.  Some may take longer to play out, some may be very very frustrating, some may cause us to want to drop out. The funny thing is, we get all excited to finish a level… only to take on… another level!
But we will endure them, and in fact, sometimes we will learn a lot more about life (or the game) because it takes so long!

2.  You aren’t God
How many times have you wanted to choose what colors fall next?  How many times have you gotten wanted to bargain with the processor, just drop me a blue candy there, and I will get you a new SD card, or a pretty new case!  Or gotten angry as that last bomb ticked off, and you had to start again?  There are times I wonder if my failues are deliberately caused by the computer – that they want me to fail.  Most of that anger is silly, but it shows me how much I want to be in control of the game… and of my life.
Sometimes, I’ll be honest – like in the game I want to play God.  Sometimes I am actually foolish enough to think I can do better, or that God is playing with me, like He did with Jeremiah, at least in Jeremiah’s mind (see Jeremiah 20 quote above…) But God isn’t the programmers of CCR.  He’s promised that He’s in charge, that He is our Master, that He has obligated Himself to do exactly that which is good for us.

3.  Mistakes are in the past!
So you failed 40 times at a level. Guess what!  When you hit play, all those failures are history, and they have no impact on the new game, or the new attempt to solve the problem.
Likewise in faith, when we hear 1 John 1:8- when we confess our sins, and trust God to forgive them and cleanse us of all unrighteousness, we start as new as the day we were born, and the day we were born again.  The sins we’ve committed are in the past, the failures are gone, and while they lurk in the shadows, they really can’t affect how we live today,   We might listen to them, we might learn from them, but the glory of the Ministry of Reconciliation that we’ve been given (see 2 Cor. 3-5) is that God’s work is complete.  He has forgiven us, He has cleansed us, and hit the play button again.

I could go on and on about this one… there are things about this game that so mirror the frustrations of life.  There are amazing things, when you think all is lost and a striped candy and a mirror ball show up next to each other with one move to go, and the day is miraculously saved.  But there is one thing for sure, and that will be my last point..

4.  The makers want your time.
I bet that the designers of CCS have an innate or learned knowledge.  They have a goal, expressed in how many minutes we maddle move little things around, trying to achieve our goal.  They want our time, because for them, it means $$$$.  God is neither so manipulative or so greedy for stuff that doesn’t matter.  But He wants our time as well. He wants to spend it with us, showing us His love, showing us His mercy, sharing with us He re-creation of the world, because the blood of Christ was spilled on the cross.  He wants your time, because He loves you, because that’s what this life is all about.  The people of God, and those who have yet to realize that He loves them but will.  Gathered together in His arms, cared for and loved.

As incomplete this silly little game is, that last point, in their brokenness and ours, says it all.  For they realize how precious our time is….and want it.  Not as much as He does, and not for the same reason.

Maybe.. we can spend some more of it with the Lord who loves us, and takes care of our failures, and walks with us through the levels of life.

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