Monthly Archives: April 2020

A Servant

“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them.  To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.  The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

“After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

“The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

“Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

“His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed?  Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

“ ‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ Matthew 25:14-30 NIV

I lost a friend, today. One who is celebrating with Jesus and all those who have gone before him. I know in my heart that Jesus welcomed him with the words “Well done, good and faithful servant”, because that is what he was – a servant of the Lord.

His passing onward reminds me of our role in this world – to be servants – to be following Jesus in our everyday life – whatever that may be. It is allowing God to be in the lead showing us the path, showing us the gifts He has given us to use for His Glory. It is about keeping our eyes on that lighted pathway, our head held up and our steps sure.

It is not about stopping on the path, or passing the Lord on the path or shoving Him out of the way as we sprint ahead – but of stopping when He stops, walking when He walks and running when He runs. My friend was good at that. Good at walking in step with the Lord on the path set for him.

I am not saying that his path was not filled with challenges and hardships. It was. What I am saying is that he took what was given to him and in response to those challenges and hardships; he vaulted forward on the strength of Jesus. And along the way, his life touched and impacted more of God’s children than ever could be imagined.

Trust . . . Live . . . Repeat!

All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too.

Are you going through “hard times”? If so, what did you learn? How were you strengthened? If not, has God brought you along side someone else who is experiencing a difficult time that you have some insight into or similar experience with?

6-7 When we suffer for Jesus, it works out for your healing and salvation. If we are treated well, given a helping hand and encouraging word, that also works to your benefit, spurring you on, face forward, unflinching. Your hard times are also our hard times. When we see that you’re just as willing to endure the hard times as to enjoy the good times, we know you’re going to make it, no doubt about it.

Are you there, yet – at the point where the same peace that surpassing all understanding is present whether it be a hard time or a good time? Have you realized that your hard time is also shared with those praying for you – the Body of Christ?

8-11 We don’t want you in the dark, friends, about how hard it was when all this came down on us in Asia province. It was so bad we didn’t think we were going to make it. We felt like we’d been sent to death row, that it was all over for us. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally—not a bad idea since he’s the God who raises the dead! And he did it, rescued us from certain doom. And he’ll do it again, rescuing us as many times as we need rescuing. You and your prayers are part of the rescue operation—I don’t want you in the dark about that either. I can see your faces even now, lifted in praise for God’s deliverance of us, a rescue in which your prayers played such a crucial part.

Do you understand the resurrection power that connects one brother in Christ or sister in Christ with another? Do you understand the power of prayer? Have you asked for it from your fellow brothers or sisters in Christ?

12-14 Now that the worst is over, we’re pleased we can report that we’ve come out of this with conscience and faith intact, and can face the world—and even more importantly, face you with our heads held high. But it wasn’t by any fancy footwork on our part. It was God who kept us focused on him, uncompromised. Don’t try to read between the lines or look for hidden meanings in this letter. We’re writing plain, unembellished truth, hoping that you’ll now see the whole picture as well as you’ve seen some of the details. We want you to be as proud of us as we are of you when we stand together before our Master Jesus. 2 Corinthians 1:4-14

Are you reading “between the lines” in a situation looking for hidden meanings? Or are you seeking the whole truth and asking God to show it to you based on the details you do have?

15-16 Confident of your welcome, I had originally planned two great visits with you—coming by on my way to Macedonia province, and then again on my return trip. Then we could have had a bon-voyage party as you sent me off to Judea. That was the plan.

17-19 Are you now going to accuse me of being flip with my promises because it didn’t work out? Do you think I talk out of both sides of my mouth—a glib yes one moment, a glib no the next? Well, you’re wrong. I try to be as true to my word as God is to his. Our word to you wasn’t a careless yes canceled by an indifferent no. How could it be? When Silas and Timothy and I proclaimed the Son of God among you, did you pick up on any yes-and-no, on-again, off-again waffling? Wasn’t it a clean, strong Yes?

Do you realize that God operates in “real time”? Sometimes what we were lead to do was not about the “doing” but was about the “following” so that in the process something is produced that may or may not be known to us. It does not mean that we heard “wrong” at the time, just that what we thought was the purpose was not God’s purpose. Can we live with not knowing every purpose of God or do we have to investigate everything we don’t understand and place “blame” when we think we have figured it all out?

20-22 Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus. In him, this is what we preach and pray, the great Amen, God’s Yes and our Yes together, gloriously evident. God affirms us, making us a sure thing in Christ, putting his Yes within us. By his Spirit he has stamped us with his eternal pledge—a sure beginning of what he is destined to complete.

23 Now, are you ready for the real reason I didn’t visit you in Corinth? As God is my witness, the only reason I didn’t come was to spare you pain. I was being considerate of you, not indifferent, not manipulative.

24 We’re not in charge of how you live out the faith, looking over your shoulders, suspiciously critical. We’re partners, working alongside you, joyfully expectant. I know that you stand by your own faith, not by ours.  

2 Corinthians 1:3-24 The Message*

Are you looking over your shoulder, being suspiciously critical or are you partnering with God and alongside others, joyfully expectant of God’s provision?

Remember, the strength of the Body of Christ is all of us standing by our own faith . . . together.

*Scripture quotations marked MSG are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

“Cast your burdens on the Lord”

Before the sun rises each day, I snuggle under a blanket on my big comfy chair with my steaming cup of coffee and open the worn cover of my favorite devotional – Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest. It is my “go to” devotional. I have probably read it every other year for 20 years. It never gets old – it never ceases to stir me in my walk with the Lord. Monday, April 13th was no exception.

What To Do When Your Burden Is Overwhelming

Cast your burden on the Lord… Psalm 55:22

We must recognize the difference between burdens that are right for us to bear and burdens that are wrong. We should never bear the burdens of sin or doubt, but there are some burdens placed on us by God which He does not intend to lift off. God wants us to roll them back on Him— to literally “cast your burden,” which He has given you, “on the Lord….” If we set out to serve God and do His work but get out of touch with Him, the sense of responsibility we feel will be overwhelming and defeating. But if we will only roll back on God the burdens He has placed on us, He will take away that immense feeling of responsibility, replacing it with an awareness and understanding of Himself and His presence.

Many servants set out to serve God with great courage and with the right motives. But with no intimate fellowship with Jesus Christ, they are soon defeated. They do not know what to do with their burden, and it produces weariness in their lives. Others will see this and say, “What a sad end to something that had such a great beginning!”

“Cast your burden on the Lord….” You have been bearing it all, but you need to deliberately place one end on God’s shoulder. “…the government will be upon His shoulder” Isaiah 9:6. Commit to God whatever burden He has placed on you. Don’t just cast it aside, but put it over onto Him and place yourself there with it. You will see that your burden is then lightened by the sense of companionship. But you should never try to separate yourself from your burden.

Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, April 13

Have you been struggling with a burden? Are you asking God to take it away or are you asking Him to shoulder the burden with you – asking Him to open your eyes to see the burden through His eyes?

Remember . . . “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8 NIV

Turn Your Eyes

As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.” Luke 10:38-39 The Message

As a follower of Jesus, many of us are “doing” good things. As we journey deeper in faith, our vision becomes clearer and we realize that doing “good” things is not always the “best” or “essential” thing to be doing.

We have a unique opportunity at this moment in time to concentrate on doing the “essential” thing – to enjoy the “main course”.  So let us remove ourselves from our list of tasks and ask ourselves some simple questions.

When was the last time you gave yourself a break – from work – from cleaning – from directing – from supervising others – from having “to do“ anything. When was the last time, you had no agenda but Him?

When is the last time you merely rested in Him – in his teaching – in the beauty of His spring flowers – in the warmth of His sun or the vastness of His night sky – or the laughter of His children?

When is the last time you hung on every word He said?

The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.” Luke 10:38-42 The Message

So . . . “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”

O soul are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior
And life more abundant and free

Turn you eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace

Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there
Over us sin no more hath dominion
For more than conquerors we are

And turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace

His word shall not fail you, He promised
Believe Him and all will be well
Then go to a world that is dying
His perfect salvation to tell

And turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace

Lyrics by Helen Howarth Lemmel 1922

What ARE we doing?

When Hathach told Mordecai what Esther had said, Mordecai sent her this message: “Don’t think that just because you live in the king’s house you’re the one Jew who will get out of this alive. If you persist in staying silent at a time like this, help and deliverance will arrive for the Jews from someplace else; but you and your family will be wiped out. Who knows? Maybe you were made queen for just such a time as this.” Esther 4:12-14 MSG*

If you are a follower of Jesus, then you have been blessed for a time such as this. You have been strategically placed in this world to be the hands and feet and voice of Christ himself. The Holy Spirit is within you and is guiding you. Worship. Listen. Intercede. Follow.

When the Master Shows Up

 “Keep your shirts on; keep the lights on! Be like house servants waiting for their master to come back from his honeymoon, awake and ready to open the door when he arrives and knocks. Lucky the servants whom the master finds on watch! He’ll put on an apron, sit them at the table, and serve them a meal, sharing his wedding feast with them. It doesn’t matter what time of the night he arrives; they’re awake—and so blessed!

 “You know that if the house owner had known what night the burglar was coming, he wouldn’t have stayed out late and left the place unlocked. So don’t you be slovenly and careless. Just when you don’t expect him, the Son of Man will show up.”

Peter said, “Master, are you telling this story just for us? Or is it for everybody?”

The Master said, “Let me ask you: Who is the dependable manager, full of common sense, that the master puts in charge of his staff to feed them well and on time? He is a blessed man if when the master shows up he’s doing his job. But if he says to himself, ‘The master is certainly taking his time,’ begins maltreating the servants and maids, throws parties for his friends, and gets drunk, the master will walk in when he least expects it, give him the thrashing of his life, and put him back in the kitchen peeling potatoes.

“The servant who knows what his master wants and ignores it, or insolently does whatever he pleases, will be thoroughly thrashed. But if he does a poor job through ignorance, he’ll get off with a slap on the hand. Great gifts mean great responsibilities; greater gifts, greater responsibilities! Luke 12:35-48 MSG*

Have you been blessed with resources? In other words do you have savings, a steady income and/or a job that is continuing? Have you sought Christ’s counsel to determine how he desires you to use these resources? Is there a business you normally patronize that is now closed? Have you discerned if they are still in need of income to pay their rent, utilities, feed their children or themselves? What are you being called to do?

Do you have a position of influence to assist people in this time? Are you making yourself available to those in your sphere of influence – those God places in your path either through work, church, or in the grocery store parking lot? What are you being called to do?

Do you have the physical ability to provide needed labor? Is you neighbor elderly and in need of a light bulb being changed, or yard work being completed or a minor repair being done? Can you volunteer at a food bank? What are you being called to do?

Are you trained in professions that are being called into extraordinary service? Have you turned to Jesus for strength and guidance? Are you focusing on His love, knowing He will never leave you or forsake you – knowing that He already won? Are you believing that He has your back and claiming the power of Jesus as you work? Are you refusing to complain, feel sorry for yourself, or place blame? What are you being called to do?

Are you blessed with a talent – such as music – and are you sharing that with others through a telephone call, a serenade through a window, a video chat with a parent or grandparent? What are you being called to do?

Are you a believer in Jesus Christ who has time to intercede for those in harms way? One of the greatest forms of worship is lifting others to the throne of God. We all have time now that is different than the time we had a month ago. So ask God to place those people on your heart who are in need of the touch of Jesus. Will Jesus touch them anyway? Yes, but what a smile we bring to His face when we are listening and discerning what He is doing and we are doing it too. Have you discerned anything about what you may be called to do from your relationship with Jesus?

If not, maybe you just need to be still.

*Scripture quotations marked MSG are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

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