Charles Stanley – A Pattern for Servanthood

 

John 13:1-17

Jesus told His disciples, “Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant” (Matt. 20:26). In Bible times, the lowest servant of the house washed dusty feet. So the disciples must have been surprised when Jesus performed this humble task for them. He explained His shocking behavior by saying, “If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14).

Based on those words, many churches have turned foot washing into an ordinance; they believe that this act shows Christlikeness and demonstrates willingness to serve. Perhaps that’s true for some believers, but many perform the ceremony by rote. Jesus’ message to the disciples and to modern believers is not literally to wash dirty feet, but rather to serve one another with humility and love.

True servanthood is not a popular topic because many people regard it as beneath them. But God wants us to see ourselves as living sacrifices. To serve the Lord well, we must be willing do whatever He asks for whomever He asks. Our Christlikeness is evident when we love God and others so much that we willingly humble ourselves for their sake.

Jesus performed one of the lowliest tasks of His day to demonstrate His servanthood. What are you willing to do for Him?

Bible in One Year: Isaiah 31-35

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Touch the Needy

 

Bible in a Year:

He put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

Luke 13:13

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Luke 13:10–17

It wasn’t surprising when Mother Teresa received the Nobel Peace Prize. True to form, she received the award “in the name of the hungry, of the naked, of the homeless, of the blind, of the lepers, of all those who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society.” Those were the people she ministered to for most of her life.

Jesus modeled how to care for and love the marginalized, regardless of circumstances. Unlike the synagogue leaders who respected the Sabbath law more than the sick (Luke 13:14), when Jesus saw an ill woman at the temple, He was moved with compassion. He looked beyond the physical impairment and saw God’s beautiful creation in bondage. He called her to Him and said she was healed. Then He “put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God” (v. 13). By touching her, He upset the leader of the synagogue because it was the Sabbath. Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath (Luke 6:5), compassionately chose to heal the woman—a person who had faced discomfort and humiliation for nearly two decades.

I wonder how often we see someone as undeserving of our compassion. Or maybe we’ve experienced rejection because we didn’t meet somebody else’s standard. May we not be like the religious elite who cared more about rules than fellow humans. Instead, let’s follow Jesus’ example and treat others with compassion, love, and dignity.

By:  Estera Pirosca Escobar

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Alienation and Embrace

Vincenzo Ricardo. If that name does not mean much to you, you are not alone. It does not seem to have meant much to anyone else except, perhaps, him who bore it. In fact it was not even his name. His real name was Vincenzo Riccardi, and nobody seemed to get it right after the sensational discovery of his mummified body in Southampton, New York. He had been dead for 13 months, but his television was still on, and his body was propped up in a chair in front of it.(1) The television was his only companion, and though it had much to tell him, it did not care whether he lived or died.

Riccardi’s story raises many unsettling questions. How can a human being vanish for over a year and not be missed by anyone? Where was his family? What about his relatives? Why was the power still on in his house? Whatever the answers are to these and other questions, one thing is clear: Riccardi was a lonely individual whose life can be summed up in one word, alienation. You see, Riccardi was blind, so he never really watched television; he needed this virtual reality to feed his need for real companionship. Moreover, his frequent “outbursts and paranoid behavior” may have played a role in driving people away from him.(2)

This is indeed a tragic and extreme tale, but it makes a powerful statement about how cold and lonely life can be for millions across the globe. Even those who seem to have all of their ducks in a row are not immune to the pangs of loneliness and alienation. The Christian story attests that alienation affects us at three different levels. We are alienated from ourselves, from others, and most significantly, we are alienated from God. That is the reality in which we exist. The restoration process involves all three dimensions, but it begins with a proper relationship with God. We cannot get along with ourselves or with others until we are properly related to God. The good news of the Christian gospel is that abundant restoration is available to all who want it.

This process is well illustrated in an encounter Jesus had with another deeply wounded man who lived in a cemetery. Relatives, and perhaps friends, had tried unsuccessfully to bind him with iron chains to keep him home. He preferred to live among the tombs (alienation from others), cutting himself with stones, his identity concealed in his new name—”Legion” (alienation from self). His mind and body were hopelessly enslaved by Satan’s agents, and his life was no longer his own (alienation from God). It took an encounter with Jesus for the man to be fully restored, “dressed and in his right mind” (Mark 5:15). Only then could he follow Jesus’s command to go back to his family and tell them what God had done for him.

The restoration process remains the same today. Until we are properly related to God, our true identity and potential will always elude us. No virtual reality or gadget can even begin to address the problem, for they only give back to us what we have put into them. They are like the message in a bottle which a castaway on a remote island excitedly received, only to realize that it was a cry for help that he himself had sent out months before. As Augustine prayed, “You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You.” We are finite creatures, created for a relationship with an Infinite Being, and no finite substitute can ever meet our deepest needs. Trying to meet our real needs without Christ is like trying to satisfy our thirst with salty water: the more we drink, the thirstier we become. This is a sure path to various sorts of addictions.

But when we turn toward the Bread of Life who offers himself up, calling each one of us to the table by name, loneliness is countered with the hope of embrace. We become members of God’s extended family. With Abraham, we look “forward to the city with foundations whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10). Day by day, we learn to trust God as we travel with others along a heavily trodden path that never disappoints. Friends and relatives may desert us, but we are never alone. We may grieve and lament, but never like those without hope. We have peace and joy within, and even in our own hour of need, others can still find their way to God through us. The alternative is a crippling sense of isolation and alienation within a worldly system whose offerings, however sophisticated and well-intentioned, can never arouse us from spiritual death.

J.M. Njoroge is a member of the speaking team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Nairobi, Kenya.

 

(1) Erika Hayasaki, “He Died in Vast Isolation,” LA Times, March 31, 2007.
(2) Ibid.

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Joyce Meyer – The Power of Surrender

 

And the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach and cry out to it the preaching that I tell you. — Jonah 3:1-2 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource New Day, New You – by Joyce Meyer

We read in the book of Jonah how God told Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach repentance to the people there, but because Jonah didn’t want to, he went to Tarshish, which is in the absolute opposite direction.

What happens when we go in the opposite direction from where God has directed us? What happened to Jonah? When he boarded a ship and headed in his own direction, a huge storm arose. Like Jonah, many of the storms we face in life are the result of our own stubbornness or disobedience to the voice and leadership of God.

The violent storm that came upon Jonah frightened the rest of the men on the ship. They cast lots to see who was causing the trouble, and the lot fell on Jonah. He knew he had disobeyed God, so he told the men to throw him overboard so that they’d be safe. When they did, the storm stopped, and a huge fish swallowed Jonah.

From the fish’s belly (not a pleasant place!), he cried out to God for mercy and repented of his stubborn ways, and God heard him. The fish spit Jonah out on dry land, and in Jonah 3:1, we see that God spoke to Jonah a second time, giving him a second chance to go to Nineveh and preach to the people there. No matter how long we avoid God’s instruction, it’s still there for us to follow when we stop running.

If we’re not pursuing God’s will, we get uncomfortable; we just know something isn’t right in our lives. Eventually we see that being in His will, not trying to make our own will happen, is what brings peace and joy.

I encourage you to take a moment to ask yourself, Where am I headed? Think about the answer. If you’re moving in any direction other than God’s will, now is the perfect time to make a change!

Prayer Starter: Father, help me follow Your direction the first time You give it, and please forgive me for the times I haven’t. Thank You for forgiving me, and for providing the grace I need to do what You’ve asked me to do. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Help for Hard Times

 

“He cares for them when times are hard; even in famine, they will have enough” (Psalm 37:19).

I recall that, in the early 1930’s during the time of the great depression in America, many people experienced hard times. It was not always easy to fully appreciate the fact I know now to be true: God always cares for His children.

“When times are hard” can refer not only to the material, but also to the physical and the spiritual. And during any of these times – whether in poverty, poor health or spiritual doldrums – our great God always cares for us.

In Bible times, God often proved the truth of the assertion that He cares for His people in periods of famine. And no doubt multitudes of sufferers around the world today would attest to that fact, in spite of their suffering.

When physical suffering is involved, it is not always easy to see the hand of God. But one sure way to increase faith is to exercise the sacrifice of praise – praise to our wonderful God for the positive fact that “all things do work together for our good if we love God and are called according to His purpose.”

When spiritual poverty is concerned, we need only retreat to that time and place in our lives where we wandered away from God, whatever degree of wandering that involves, whether large or small. “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.”

Bible Reading: Psalm 37:16-22

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: At all times of difficulty in my life – spiritual, material, physical – I will look for God’s hand of blessing in the joyful assurance that He cares for me.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Take Good Counsel

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Hurting people hang with hurting people.  We love those who commiserate and avoid those who correct us.  Yet correction and direction are what we need.

I discovered the importance of healthy counsel in a half-Ironman triathlon.  After the 1.2–mile swim and the 56–mile bike ride, I didn’t have much energy left for the 13.1–mile run.  Neither did the fellow jogging next to me.  I asked him how he was doing and soon regretted it.   He said, “This stinks. It’s the dumbest decision I’ve ever made.”  He had more complaints than a taxpayer at the IRS.

My response to him?  “Goodbye.”  I knew if I listened too long, I’d start agreeing with him. Proverbs reminds us to “take good counsel and watch your plans succeed.”  So be quick to pray, seek healthy counsel, and don’t give up.

Read more Facing Your Giants: God Still Does the Impossible

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

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Denison Forum – Man spends 267 days sailing solo around the world: The compelling power of character in chaos

Bert terHart set sail from British Columbia last year in late October on a solo journey to circumnavigate the globe. He arrived back on July 18, where he was welcomed by family and friends. And where he was promptly thrust into the reality of life in a pandemic.

“In a nutshell, I’ve been sequestered completely, totally isolated from the rest of the world,” terHart said of his voyage. Astronauts on the International Space Station orbiting thirty-five miles above the earth were actually the closest humans to him for most of his journey.

He told a reporter, “When I got back, the first thing I said was, ‘What did I miss?'”

A reader’s perceptive question 

In my sixty-two years, these have easily been the most tumultuous nine months I have witnessed. In these difficult days, Rep. John Lewis’s commitment to “redemptive suffering” has taken on special meaning and urgency.

In a recent article, I stated my deep appreciation for Rep. Lewis’s courageous and sacrificial leadership in America’s ongoing quest for racial equality. However, I also noted my disagreement with him on moral issues such as same-sex marriage, religious liberty, and especially on abortion.

A reader responded to my article with this question: “Jim, I am struggling with how to balance how a man so Christlike in his courage to confront violence/racism nonviolently could arrive at these conclusions on issues that are so contrary to God’s word. Any comments would be appreciated.”

I did not have the privilege of knowing John Lewis personally, so I cannot answer this question from firsthand knowledge. But I can describe the reasoning of many who share our faith in Christ but agree with Rep. Lewis on these issues.

On abortion, I know Christians who claim that science cannot determine when life begins. As a result, they believe that decisions regarding the preborn baby are best left with the mother rather than being “imposed” by the state. (For my response, see my paper on abortion).

On same-sex marriage, some Christians claim that the Bible does not forbid loving, monogamous same-sex sexual relations. They therefore view LGBTQ people as a persecuted minority in need of the same civil rights protections as racial minorities. (For my response, see my paper on same-sex marriage).

Continue reading Denison Forum – Man spends 267 days sailing solo around the world: The compelling power of character in chaos