Friday, January 31, 2014

Servant hood...2 Corinthians 4:1-2

2 Corinthians 4:1–2; 1 Thessalonians 2:3–4

Let's think about an essential mark of servanthood: integrity . . . or absolute honesty.

Remember these words?

Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. (2 Corinthians 4:1–2)

And how about these?

For our exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit; but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts. (1 Thessalonians 2:3–4)

There really isn't much to add, is there? Honesty has a beautiful and refreshing simplicity about it . . . as do servants of God. No ulterior motives. No hidden meanings. An absence of hypocrisy, duplicity, political games, and verbal superficiality.

As honesty and real integrity characterize our lives, there will be no need to manipulate others. We'll come to the place where all the substitutes will turn us off once we cultivate a taste for the genuine, the real.

I'm far from through, but this is enough for one sitting. We need to put it on the back burner and let it simmer for a while. Before going on with the rest of your day, take time to give some thought to your own life.

Think about becoming more of a servant . . . think of characteristics like transparent humanity and genuine humility and absolute honesty. Being real—that's what I want to get across—being who you really are and then allowing the Lord God to develop within you a style of serving that fits you.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Get Right with God!...Psalm 50:16-17

Psalm 50:16-17, 22-23 But God says to the wicked:“Why bother reciting my decrees and pretending to obey my covenant? For you refuse my discipline and treat my words like trash. Repent..."

Time to get "Right with God"

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Humility...1 Corinthians 2:4-5

1 Corinthians 2:4–5

When we think of what the great apostle Paul was like, the idea of humility isn't the first one that jumps into our minds. Consider his own admission:

My message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.

(1 Corinthians 2:4–5)

Now for a preacher, that's quite a comment. The man comes up front and declares not only his lack of persuasiveness but his reason why—that they might not be impressed with his ability but rather with God's power.

There's something very authentic in Paul's humility. Over and over we read similar words in his writings. I'm convinced that those who were instructed face-to-face by the man became increasingly more impressed with the living Christ and less impressed with Paul.

When people follow image-conscious leaders, the leader is exalted. He is placed on a pedestal and ultimately takes the place of the head of the church.

But when people follow leaders with servant hearts, the Lord God is exalted. Those people speak of God's person, God's power, God's work, God's name, God's Word . . . all for God's glory.

Let me suggest a couple of revealing tests of humility:

1. A non-defensive spirit when confronted. This reveals a willingness to be accountable. Genuine humility operates on a rather simple philosophy:

Nothing to prove.

Nothing to lose.

2. An authentic desire to help others. I'm referring to a sensitive, spontaneous awareness of needs. A true servant stays in touch with the struggles others experience. There is that humility of mind that continually looks for ways to serve and to give.

In short, when it is genuine, humility becomes a conduit for the power of God.

The Great Apostle...1 Corinthians 2:1-3

1 Corinthians 2:1–3

The great apostle Paul was just like you and me . . . he had a love for God blended with feet of clay. Great passion . . . and great weakness.

The longer I thought about this concept, the more evidence emerged from Scripture to support it. Read Paul's words to the Corinthians:

And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling.

(1 Corinthians 2:1–3)

"Aw, the guy is just being modest," you answer. No, not when you compare these words with the popular opinion of him in his day:

His letters are weighty and strong, but his personal presence is unimpressive and his speech contemptible. (2 Corinthians 10:10)

That's quite a shock. The man didn't have it all together—he wasn't perfect—and (best of all) he didn't attempt to hide it! He admitted to his friends in Corinth that he was weak, fearful, and even trembling when he stood before them. I admire such transparency. Everybody does . . . if it's the truth.

I forget where I found the following statement (so don't quote me here), but it's been in my possession for years. It vividly describes Paul as being "a man of moderate stature with curly hair and scanty, crooked legs, protruding eyeballs, large-knit eyebrows, a long nose, and thick lips."

Wow! Certainly doesn't sound like any one of the many smooth public idols of our day. Some even say he likely suffered from poor eyesight (Galatians 6:11); plus, some are convinced the man had a hunchback! You get the point.

Without hiding a bit of his humanity (see Romans 7 if you still struggle believing he was a cut above human), Paul openly declared his true condition. He had needs and admitted them.

He didn't have everything in life wired perfectly . . . and he didn't hide it. Servants are like that. Immediately, you can begin to see some of the comforting aspects of having a servant's heart.

Paul admitted his humanity. Servants do that.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Cloud with Power...Luke 21:27

Then everyone will see the Son of Man coming on a cloud with power and great glory. Luke 21:27

Christ left us with a promise that one day He will come back with glory. As you walk through today, remember the cloud is coming and everyone will see it too.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Physical Training...1 Timothy 4:8

"Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come." (NLT) 1 Timothy 4:8

Do you have a regular exercise routine that you follow? We all know the benefits of strengthening our muscles, burning off fat, and building up our heart. Do you also have a regular faith routine you follow? The benefits of strengthening our faith are much greater than anything else because the effects are eternal. If you find yourself without a routine or have fallen out of schedule, start one. Pick out some reading plans in the Bible, write daily in a prayer journal, visit your local Christian bookstore. Whatever you choose, make sure you train for godliness.

Commentary by Daily Bible Devotions

Friday, January 24, 2014

Tongue Depressor...James 3:6

And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. James 3:6

While you can delete a tweet, spoken words are heard immediately and remembered forever. You may be in an awkward relationship at the moment because of this. Remember those tongue depressors at the doctor's office? It's difficult to talk and equally difficult to hear with one in your mouth. Before you speak discouraging or criticizing words, put a "tongue depressor" in your mouth and remember that God loves them.

Commentary by Daily Bible Devotions

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Do you lack wisdom? James 1:5

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

James 1:5 (NIV)

Thoughts on Today's Verse...

Wisdom is that exclusive quality we respect in others and find so difficult to develop in ourselves. Yet God promises it to those who really ask. But remember the secret of asking — asking, seeking, and knocking. Or better yet, check out Proverbs 2. Wisdom is ours only if we seek it above all other possessions and value it above all other diversions. God longs to impart it, but there is something about spiritual wisdom that demands we value it before we can receive it.

Are you in the wilderness? Nehemiah 9:21

For forty years you sustained them in the wilderness, and they lacked nothing. Their clothes did not wear out, and their feet did not swell! Nehemiah 9:21

Do you feel like you are walking in the wilderness? God will give you exactly what you need at exactly the right time you need it. God wants our hearts to be aligned with Him through his son Jesus. Never forget that God's purpose and will overrides ours. When we realize this, that's when we've received His blessing of wisdom.