Serve One Another

Posted December 21st, 2008 by Kent and filed in devotional


by Max Lucado

Jesus “set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that: a crucifixion” (Phil. 2:7–8 MSG).

Let’s follow his example. Let’s “put on the apron of humility, to serve one another” (1 Pet. 5:5 TEV). Jesus entered the world to serve. We can enter our jobs, our homes, our churches. Servanthood requires no unique skill or seminary degree. Regardless of your strengths, training, or church tenure, you can …

Love the overlooked. Jesus sits in your classroom, wearing the thick glasses, outdated clothing, and a sad face. You’ve seen him. He’s Jesus.

Jesus works in your office. Pregnant again, she shows up to work late and tired. No one knows the father. According to water-cooler rumors, even she doesn’t know the father. You’ve seen her. She’s Jesus.

When you talk to the lonely student, befriend the weary mom, you love Jesus. He dresses in the garb of the overlooked and ignored. “Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me” (Matt. 25:40 MSG).

You can do that. Even if your sweet spot has nothing to do with encouraging others, the cure for the common life involves loving the overlooked. You can also …

Wave a white flag. We fight so much. “Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from?” asks the brother of Jesus. “Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves” (James 4:1 MSG). Serve someone by swallowing your pride. One more aspect of servanthood…..

Every day do something you don’t want to do. Pick up someone else’s trash. Surrender your parking place. Call the long-winded relative. Carry the cooler. Doesn’t have to be a big thing. Helen Keller once told the Tennessee legislature that when she was young, she had longed to do great things and could not, so she decided to do small things in a great way. Don’t be too big to do something small. “Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort” (1 Cor. 15:58 MSG).

A good action not only brings good fortune, it brings God’s attention. He notices the actions of servants. He sent his Son to be one.

When you and I crest Mount Zion and hear the applause of saints, we’ll realize this: hands pushed us up the mountain too. The pierced hands of Jesus Christ, the greatest servant who ever lived.

Never Say Amen

Posted December 20th, 2008 by Kent and filed in devotional

by Jon Walker

Read this devotional as a prayer:

Help me, Lord, to develop a strong prayer life. I know you desire intimacy with me, and you want me to watch with you and pray (Matthew 26:40).

Yet, I never seem to find the time to pray in a deep, fervent, consistent, persistent way. What draws me to my knees the most is when I have a problem, when I want something from you, when I need your help.

I’m flipping through my calendar, stressing with commitments, and you just want to hang out – with me. Help me turn my prayers into conversations with you that keep flowing throughout the day, an on-going communication where I never say “Amen.”

Keep me close to you, no matter what it takes. I’m not sure I really want to pray that; I have bruises and scars from “whatever it takes” discipleship, but, then again, I confess the crush of these moments have taught me to throw myself on the stone before the stone falls on me.

And that has moved me closer to the love that compels my obedience, closer to becoming one with your heart. So, I’m asking that you change me until my deepest want is to be with you.

With this I pray that you will create me worthy of my calling and that your power will fulfill every good purpose you plan for me and energize everything I do in faith.

My prayer is that your life will emerge in my face and in my hands, in my thoughts and in my words. I know your grace will make it so (paraphrase of 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12, NIV).

Perfect Love

Posted December 19th, 2008 by Kent and filed in devotional


by Max Lucado

Isn’t it good to know that even when we don’t love with a perfect love, he does? God always nourishes what is right. He always applauds what is right. He has never done wrong, led one person to do wrong, or rejoiced when anyone did wrong. For he is love, and love “does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth” (1 Cor. 13:6 NASB).

God passes the test of 1 Corinthians 13:6. Well, he should; he drafted it.

So where does this leave us? Perhaps with a trio of reminders. When it comes to love:

Be careful.

Until love is stirred, let God’s love be enough for you. There are seasons when God allows us to feel the frailty of human love so we’ll appreciate the strength of his love. Didn’t he do this with David? Saul turned on him. Michal, his wife, betrayed him. Jonathan and Samuel were David’s friends, but they couldn’t follow him into the wilderness. Betrayal and circumstances left David alone. Alone with God. And, as David discovered, God was enough. David wrote these words in a desert: “Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.… My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods” (Ps. 63:3, 5 NIV).

Be prayerful.

What if it’s too late? Specifically, what if you’re married to someone you don’t love—or who doesn’t love you? Many choose to leave. That may be the step you take. But if it is, take at least a thousand others first. And bathe every one of those steps in prayer. Love is a fruit of the Spirit. Ask God to help you love as he loves. “God has given us the Holy Spirit, who fills our hearts with his love” (Rom. 5:5 CEV). Ask everyone you know to pray for you. Your friends. Your family. Your church leaders. Get your name on every prayer list available. And, most of all, pray for and, if possible, with your spouse. Ask the same God who raised the dead to resurrect the embers of your love.

Be grateful.

Be grateful for those who love you. Be grateful for those who have encouraged you to do what is right and applauded when you did. Do you have people like that in your world? If so, you are doubly blessed. Be grateful for them. And be grateful for your Father in heaven.

My Children Walk in Truth

Posted December 17th, 2008 by Kent and filed in devotional

by Jon Walker

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. 3 John 1:4 (NIV)

*** *** *** ***

Being a pastor is one of the toughest jobs on the planet; but John, the disciple of love, says it can also be the most joyful: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4 NIV).

Spiritual leaders must correctly teach God’s Word, confront false teaching before it spreads, proclaim the gospel to non-believers, pray for all people (including you and your family), and train and appoint leaders; and they must do this all while serving as an example of what it looks like when you’re maturing as a Jesus-one (see 1 and 2 Timothy; Titus).

Accordingly, the Apostle Paul says we should respect our spiritual leaders, overwhelming them with appreciation: “Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work” (1 Thessalonians 5:13 NIV).

Disguised as the generic writer of Hebrews, Paul also says, “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you” (Hebrews 13:17 NIV).

You can make a big deal about obeying and submitting, but keep in mind that our overarching objective is to become one with Christ, who is one with the Father. In other words, we want our hearts and minds to line up with God’s heart and mind. We submit to God’s heart and mind, and we show our love for him when we obey him.

If a spiritual leader is walking toward oneness with Jesus, who is already at one with the Father, then it’s perfectly reasonable for us to move toward that same oneness with Jesus, meaning we swing into alignment behind our pastor.

From this angle, you can see the enormous responsibility a pastor has to keep in line with God and to encourage you to keep in line.

We live in the nasty now-and-now, so it’s all too easy, even for spiritual leaders, to slip into arguments over who gets to sit at God’s right hand when we all should be outdoing one another in heartfelt, humble service to each other (Matthews 20:20-28).

Pray for your spiritual leaders today, that they continue to walk in the truth, and let them know in some way that you want to bring them joy by walking in the truth with them (3 John 1:4 NIV).

God Believes in You

Posted December 16th, 2008 by Kent and filed in devotional


by Max Lucado

The tale involves a wealthy father and a willful son. The boy prematurely takes his inheritance and moves to Las Vegas and there wastes the money on slot machines and call girls. As fast as you can say “blackjack,” he is broke. Too proud to go home, he gets a job sweeping horse stables at the racetrack. When he finds himself tasting some of their oats and thinking, H’m, a dash of salt and this wouldn’t be too bad, he realizes enough is enough. It’s time to go home. The gardener at his father’s house does better than this. So off he goes, rehearsing his repentance speech every step of the way.

But the father has other ideas. He “had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.”

We don’t expect such a response. We expect crossed arms and a furrowed brow. At best a guarded handshake. At least a stern lecture. But the father gives none of these. Instead he gives gifts. “Bring out the best robe … a ring … sandals.… And bring the fatted calf … and let us eat and be merry” (Luke 15:11–23 NKJV). Robe, sandals, calf, and … Did you see it? A ring.

Before the boy has a chance to wash his hands, he has a ring to put on his finger. In Christ’s day rings were more than gifts; they were symbols of delegated sovereignty. The bearer of the ring could speak on behalf of the giver. It was used to press a seal into soft wax to validate a transaction. The one who wore the ring conducted business in the name of the one who gave it.

Would you have done this? Would you have given this prodigal son power-of-attorney privileges over your affairs? Would you have entrusted him with a credit card? Would you have given him this ring?

Before you start questioning the wisdom of the father, remember, in this story you are the boy. When you came home to God, you were given authority to conduct business in your heavenly Father’s name.

When you speak truth, you are God’s ambassador.

As you steward the money he gives, you are his business manager.

When you declare forgiveness, you are his priest.

As you stir the healing of the body or the soul, you are his physician.

And when you pray, he listens to you as a father listens to a son. You have a voice in the household of God. He has given you his ring.

God believes in you. And, I wonder, could you take some of the belief that he has in you and share it with someone else?

You and I have the privilege to do for others what God does for us. How do we show people that we believe in them?

Do not withhold encouragement from the discouraged. Do not keep affirmation from the beaten down! Speak words that make people stronger. Believe in them as God has believed in you.