Be A Servant.

I was listening to a podcast the other day, the topic of which was, “Leadership.”I almost skipped it to move on to the next topic, because I am not a leader, either in the world or in the church. But I’m glad I listened, because his interpretation on what “Leadership” is was very interesting.

He quoted scripture and then concluded that leadership is “serving.” He said those in leadership of the church are to be servants to the believers.

Luke 22:25-27: And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ “But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. “For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.”

So, how was Jesus a, “servant among us?”

When anyone asked Jesus to heal them, he healed them. When people were hungry, he fed them. He walked from town to town teaching the truth to crowds of people. He prayed for us. He turned no one away. He bore the cross, despising the shame of it. He washed our feet.

Matt. 20:27-28: “And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave– “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

 Mark 10:44-45 “And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Jesus said these things about desiring to be first because quite often the disciples argued about this. They thought Jesus was going to establish an earthly kingdom; they wanted in on the power of that kingdom. They all desired to be first. James and John’s mother even petitioned Jesus to put her sons at his right and left hand in the new kingdom. Jesus said, “You don’t know what you are asking for.”

Desires can trip us up. Desires can make us discontented. Desires can lead to sin. My sister and I once studied the word, “lust” and how it is used in the Bible. It simply means wrong desires.

 Jesus is saying the desire to be first is wrong. It is wrong because it means others are below you and then, at the tail end, there is the person who is last. Like the guy/gal who was chosen last for the baseball team; that kind of “last.”

In God’s eyes, those who are looked down on, those who struggle through life, those who go quietly through life being a servant to others, will be first in the kingdom of God.

But what did Jesus mean when he told the story of the farmer who hired works for his vineyard? He kept hiring men all day and then paid them all the same wage at the end of the day. The workers who worked longer were angry. They thought they should be paid more. Jesus said they weren’t going to get more. The last shall be first and the first last again. But they were given the same amount of money. Eternal life will be given to all who believe in God. So those who will be in heaven will be equal in living forever.

I think Jesus is warning Christians, “Don’t think so much of yourself and your work for God. Don’t think you are better than regular Christians who work at gas stations, stores or are full-time moms. I think Jesus is saying God looks at the ordinary person as someone equal to Billy Graham or Elijah.

I guess being humble is the gist of it all. It would be hard to stay humble if you are a pastor of a church and everyone is praising you about your sermons. It would be hard to be humble if you run a successful business. It must be hard for popular singers to be humble. Actually, it is hard for anyone to be humble! All of us have the temptation to look down on certain other people. But if we can look at ourselves as slaves or servants to these people, then this would help us to be humble.

What Did Jesus Say About the So-Called Little Things?

Jesus said, “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on His glorious throne…

Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you took Me in, I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you visited Me.’

Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink?  When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?  When did we see You sick or in prison and visit You?’

And the King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’”   Matthew 25:31-40

The other day, I was reading these verses and then went to see what Bible commentators had to say about them. I was disappointed to see a couple of them said something like this:

“If God will reward us for doing these small things, what will he give those who did the harder things and those who preached the word.”

Hmm, well I disagree with them. I think Jesus did mention the hard things. What is easier, to preach or share your last meal? What is easier, to give out pamphlets about Jesus or drive a distance to visit someone in jail? What is easier, to be a pastor or look after people who are sick and even take them into your house to care for them?

I think, that as usual, God’s thoughts are high above our thoughts and his ways above our ways. And I also think that this has been the problem with the Christian religion through the ages.

If the Christian churches had put suffering people first, the gospel would have been preached first in actions, and then in preaching. If a person is loved and helped by someone, with no other agenda than to help and love them, they would them be open to the good news of Jesus, for that is what he did and the common people loved him.

Yes, the common people loved him, but the church leaders hated him. They were jealous of his popularity and afraid of losing their power. I see church leaders like this today.

When Paul wrote about the church leaders who are around at the time of the end, this is what he said about them:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.  People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,  without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.   2Timothy 3:1-5

There are people like this leading churches today. It is easy to spot them because their actions and words betray their hearts. Jesus told us to be careful of whom we listen to. He said we will know them by the fruits of their lives. May God open our eyes and hearts to know the truth and follow it.

(You might wonder who I think I am by writing this stuff. Me too. I am nobody. I just write what my heart is full of.)

It is Finished. The Seven Last Plagues.

I noticed, when I was reading Revelation Chapter 16, that these same words are spoken in heaven. This time it means the probation of the world is over. There is no more time, no more governments, no more pleading from God to man or man to God. The work of God for the world is finished.

“Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air. And a mighty shout came from the throne in the Temple saying, “It is finished.” Then the thunder crashed and rolled and the lightning flashed. A great earthquake struck – the worst since people were placed on the earth.” Rev.16:17,18

It goes on to say that people cursed God because of the terrible plagues that were falling on the earth. But I believe it isn’t God who sends these plagues, it is us. We are killing the planet now and one day will destroy it completely.

The first plague is sores on mankind. Probably chemical warfare, some of which produce sores.

The second plague is the sea became like the blood of a dead man. Everything in the sea dies. We don’t know what ocean or sea the Bible refers to; but we do know what we have done to them. It doesn’t surprise me the creatures of the oceans will die.

The third plague is the rivers and springs become like blood. We have certainly polluted those also.

The fourth plague is the sun scorching the earth and man dying from the heat. Global warming at its worst.

The fifth plague is darkness. Perhaps large electrical grids going out in the cities.

The sixth plague is the drying up of the Euphrates River and the armies coming together for war. A war over water? Yes, very likely. Right now, Turkey wants to dam the Tigris River because they need more water. Iraq and other countries say this will take their water, and they are right.

The seventh plague is the great earthquake and huge hailstones. We are already experiencing very large hailstones. I read in the news that recently hailstones that weighed 50 lbs. fell upon a city.

These events are coming and some have already started. God will not have to send them. We have created them all by ourselves.

Jesus said,

There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among the nations, bewildered by the roaring of the sea and the surging of the waves.  Men will faint from fear and anxiety over what is coming upon the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.  At that time, they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to happen, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

…But watch yourselves, or your hearts will be weighed down by dissipation, drunkenness, and the worries of life—and that day will spring upon you suddenly like a snare.  For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth.  So, keep watch at all times, and pray that you may have the strength to escape all that is about to happen and to stand before the Son of Man.”  Luke Chapter 21.

A List of Names.

Vietnam Memorial, photo by Noel Sheffer.

I was listening to a podcast this morning called, “Pray the Word with David Platt.”  He spoke on this verse of the Bible:

Nehemiah 11:12

“…and their brothers who did the work of the house, 822; and Adaiah the son of Jeroham, son of Pelaliah, son of Amzi, son of Zechariah, son of Pashhur, son of Malchijah…”

The house spoken of in the verse is the House of the Lord, the temple. It needed to be repaired or rebuilt. The Babylonians had destroyed it.

Mr. Platt said it seems like this is a Bible verse that could not help anyone – a list of names – but this is what he said he got out of it.

We count. Our names mean something to God. What we do means something to God.

I remember Jesus saying to his disciples, “Don’t rejoice the evil spirits obey you; but rejoice your name is written in heaven.”

It’s a pretty big deal our names are written in the Book of Life. It is much more important than if we can cast out demons like Jesus did.

I loved what Mr. Platt said about us and our names, he said, “You are part of a great picture that spans centuries.” Yes, as each generation comes and goes, those who believe are a part of those who build up the kingdom of God.

He Knows Our Name.

I was reading Jeremiah when I came across this verse:

O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you shall be put to shame; those who turn away from you shall be written in the earth, for they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living water.  Jeremiah 7:13

I didn’t remember reading it before, but the thought came, “That is like the story of the woman caught in adultery. Jesus bend down and wrote something in the dirt. What he wrote convicted the men who wanted to stone her and they walked away from doing so.” John 8.

Many think Jesus wrote the men’s names down and also the sins they committed. I think that is right because these men were the hypocrites of Jerusalem who were always trying to trip Jesus up so they could kill him. They were self-righteous men and yet men who did great evil. I think when Jesus wrote, the men saw how evil they were and also did not want their sins to be made public.

If our names are written on the earth it means earth is the place we consider our home. We belong to the world and want to belong here. All our thoughts are on this world and our role in it.

Jesus talked about people who consider this earth their home. He said they are like good seed planted by the thorns. He said, “The seed sown among the thorns is the one who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word and it becomes unfruitful.”

We can have our name written in heaven, in the Book of Life, if we so choose. It means heaven is our true home. Instead of constantly thinking about jobs, houses, movies, family, romantic love, sex etc. we will choose to make time to talk with God, ask him to be in us each day and study about him in the Bible.

There is a verse in Revelation that always makes me smile. It is about a new name that God will give us. That name will only be known between us and God,

“To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’  Revelation 2:17

Here are some verses about the Book of Life:

Nevertheless, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”  Luke 10:20

And all who dwell on earth will worship the beast, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.  Revelation 13:8

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne. And there were open books, and one of them was the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their deeds, as recorded in the books.  Revelation 20:12

And of course, there is the Name Above All Names: Jesus Christ.

Therefore, God exalted Him to the highest place

and gave Him the name above all names,

that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,

in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father.

Philippeans 2:9-11

God Surrounds Us.

I haven’t written lately. My mother had a few minor heart attacks and was in the hospital overnight. They sent us home with some pills and nitroglycerine spray, which is working very well. I’m glad she is still with us at 92 years old.

 In the third chapter of Joshua, the people of Israel are prepared to go into the promised land and take it. The Jordan River flows between them and Jericho. God tells Joshua to have the priests take the Ark of the Covenant to the river. They were to go ahead of the people with the ark and stop in the middle. Then the people could pass over. The river stopped flowing the moment the priest’s feet hit the water.

I thought about how God promises to go before us. “It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8

My granddaughter just finished taking a college course on office work. She has been doing very well and is now in her practicum at the college itself. She loves the people there along with her desk space which has a lovely view out the windows. She would like to get a job there but there are no openings right now. She is concerned about getting a job. One reason I love God is that he says, “Don’t worry about anything.” I’m not worried for her because I know God has gone before her and she will get a job.

A job is a need, and he promises to supply all our needs. Many times he doesn’t do this swiftly. Many times he does. However long he takes, we can ask him to make us patient and to learn how to trust him in the waiting.

In Isaiah chapter 58, God tells us that if we are good to our neighbors and help the poor he will be our rearguard. The rearguard is a detachment of soldiers protecting the army as it marches ahead into battle. Yes, that is God. Isaiah 58:8 Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.

God also promises to be beside us. “For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” Isaiah 41:18

Finally, God promises to surround us. Psalm 3:3 But you, O LORD, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high.

Treasury of David: Bible Hub. “Here David avows his confidence in God. “Thou, O Lord, art a shield for me.” The word in the original signifies more than a shield; it means a buckler round about, a protection which shall surround a man entirely, a shield above, beneath, around, without and within. Oh, what a shield is God for his people! He wards off the fiery darts of Satan from beneath, and the storms of trials from above, while, at the same instant, he speaks peace to the tempest within the breast.”

It is good to meditate on these words. We can picture Jesus in front of us, beside us, behind us and then realize he is all around us. When I think hard about the fact that the God of the universe, a being that powerful and amazing, walks with me through life, I stand in awe and I am filled with gratitude.

“I Will Never Leave You.”

I’m 69 and I take care of my mother who is 91. She has short-term memory loss. She can still play games; we just have to explain them each time. She can read and talk about politics, but she usually forgets that Trump is president and what we have said about him. She remembers the past very well and talks about her childhood.

Her favorite show is “Father Brown.” It is a British show about a priest who solves murders. He is also a kind and spiritual priest who says wonderful things about God. The thing is, she doesn’t remember the shows after she watches them. At first, I found different shows after we had watched all of “Father Brown”, but she would see a picture of him on Netflix and say, “I love “Father Brown”. I’d like to watch that.” So now, I just have that show on all the time for her when it is just the two of us up and about. My husband and her watch other things.

What I found really interesting is that we also watch Joyce Meyer, the preacher, every day. But there is a big difference. She remembers the shows! If there are two of them to watch and I choose the one we watched before she will say, “We’ve seen this one.”

When my husband was in the hospital for a procedure that went all wrong, he became very sick. I went in his room one morning and he looked at me and said, “Who are you?” I left the room and started bawling in the hallway. A nurse ran up and asked me why I was crying and I said, “My husband doesn’t even know who I am.”

All hell broke loose; doctors came running from everywhere. It turned out that during the procedure the doctor had cut open his liver and didn’t know it. They did save him and he was okay. He got his memory back.

He told me later that when he had woken up, he had remembered God and Jesus, but that was all. He hadn’t even known who he was or why he was in a hospital. He said remembering Jesus gave him peace of mind. He wasn’t worried.

When my nephew became very sick with schizophrenia, the only time he talked sanely was when he talked with me about whether there was a God and what he was like. We talked on and off for about 6 months. The last time I saw him he told me he believed in God and given his life to him. A few days later he was dead by suicide.

I find all this beautiful and encouraging, how God can speak to and live in our minds no matter how sick we are, no matter how our minds are affected.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38,39